Food waste has entered the cosmetics market as an evolution “from an environmental aspiration to an improved revenue opportunity, building off an existing business practice”, highlighted David Tyrrell, Global Skincare Analyst for beauty and personal care at Mintel.
Organisations have recognised the relationship between developing enhanced sustainability strategies and revenue growth: “There is growing awareness among food manufacturers that a zero waste strategy can have potentially sizable revenue returns.”
“More companies will emerge to remove natural actives from food wastes to feed the growing luxury personal care markets,” added Tyrrell.
“A growing number of food and cosmetic manufacturers realise the economic potential for the business, and are willing to invest,” said Tyrrell.
“It also spotlights a commitment by these companies to find more inventive approaches to reducing carbon footprint, and push forward with their sustainability plans,” emphasised Tyrrell.
“It is early, but commercialised launches using ‘food waste’ are encouraging, and suggest that the economics are reasonable. The practice has the potential to be part of other companies’ sustainability portfolios,” Tyrrell went on to say.
Food waste would still need to satisfy all requirements relating to ingredients including all safety testing, and arguably ensure that each batch falls within a defined activity i.e. antioxidant range.
“The highly valued natural actives produced from these side streams would be supplied to the cosmetic industry,” added Tyrrell.
Case study: L'Oréal
L'Oréal is one example of a global company with a leading APAC presence that has pushed its sustainability drive within the cosmetic industry.
As a result, it has adopted a multi-prong strategy that includes tackling food waste by implementing the inclusion of active ingredients extracted from the discarded husks of the superfood, quinoa, and applied to cosmetic products.
It is not only the larger multinational conglomerates that will be handling food waste to build their cosmetics ranges: “More start-ups will appear trying to tackle food waste and establish their own eco-ethical messaging.”
“L'Oréal’s influence, for example, cannot be understated [and] this can motivate other brands to look into a similar ingredient sourcing plan.”
Through the use of food waste, larger companies such as L'Oréal can build partnerships to build its strategy using the whole foodstuff for cosmetic purposes.
Manufacturers must, however, ensure that all food waste is “fresh to help minimise microbial issues and loss of active compounds that are negatively impacted with time”.
Key market: Singapore
Although Asia produces a considerable amount of the global food waste, currently “active ingredients from food waste have not been adopted by Asian cosmetic companies”, Tyrrell stated.
Singapore is a key market, however, as it is a major driver and innovator of sustainability practices and reportedly ranks first among Asian cities for environmental efforts. Numerous Singaporean startup brands aim to reduce food waste, which is likely to support local beauty startups in entering the natural actives marketplace.
Start up success
In this early stage, emotions are expected to drive the purchase of brands that use food waste. Many of the niche brands will concentrate on their environmental position and partner with the wider network including local grocers or farmers.
Focusing on the use of coffee grounds, niche brands are looking to “support local communities’ food waste reduction efforts”.
In the near future, the cosmetics industry anticipates that more beauty startups will “promote a healthy, natural message that also showcases the use of natural actives derived from food waste to reduce the human footprint”.