The Wonderful Company, best known for its pomegranate juices, is ready to infuse some cash into creative reuses of its pomegranate biomass.
Today, the company launched its Wonderful Innovation Challenge. The competition will offer “up to $1 million” in funding and development resources to those with “pilot ready solutions for the 50,000 tons of pomegranate husks generated each year by juicing POM Wonderful pomegranates,” according to a press release sent to The Spoon. Food waste nonprofit ReFed will serve as a strategic advisor and managing partner for the competition.
The pomegranate husk, also known as pomace, consists of the fruit’s pulpy remains after it has been crushed and its juice extracted. On the competition’s website, The Wonderful Company says the pomace is usually sold as dairy feed but “recent shifts in the market have prompted the exploration of new, alternative outlets.”
To find those alternative outlets, Wonderful’s new competition is looking for companies with ideas that are ready to pilot and backed by “a data-driven business model.” The tools, technologies, and processes companies can use is fairly open-ended: the competition only notes that concepts should demonstrate potential for positive environmental or social impact.
Chosen winners get funding from a $1 million reward pool, as well as assistance in developing their concepts. Applicants should request the amount they will need to develop their pilots when they submit their ideas.
Wonderful is the latest company to join the movement for upcycling the inedible parts of food items, and in the last several months, we’ve seen many creative ideas come out of this movement. It joins companies like Renewal Mill, who is currently making cookies from upcycled okara flour and Harmless Harvest, a company turning leftover salmon skin into snacks. Major corporations are also getting involved. For example, researchers at the University of Toronto Scarborough turning McDonald’s deep-fryer oil into 3D-printing resin.
Innovations in upcycling increase as the conversation around the world’s food waste problem gets louder. As we discussed in a recent Spoon Plus report, solutions for fighting food waste now come in all different shapes and sizes. While Wonderful’s new competition specifically focuses on food scraps that can’t be eaten, it joins other companies and organizations in the urgent fight to keep food out of landfills.
Tech has a potentially big role to play in the process of upcycling inedible food scraps, and we’ll doubtless see some of it surface in Wonderful’s competition.
The application process is open now and runs to Dec. 7, 2020.