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Upcycling: Good for Pets, Good for the Planet

Written by Kimberly Halzen


Posted on June 08 2020

Main Photo: Grocery stores have to pull produce off the shelves every day which doesn't fit strict standards. These bananas would have gone in the trash because they looked slightly too ripe.


The pet industry is no stranger to using food materials that aren't preferred for human consumption. Dogs have been eating the scraps that we don't want for thousands of years, and the utilization of by-products and co-products of producing human food in pet products is a naturally sustainable process where we use every bit of a plant or animal farmed. It doesn't make sense to only use animal muscle or plant seeds when the whole rest of the organism has value as well.

What is Upcycling?

When we refer to upcycled materials, we generally mean something that would have been thrown away being reused in a way that increases its value.

Beef Gambrel Tendons

Photo: Beef bones, tendons, and tracheas are a great example of components that are less useful to people, but make high quality dog chews when safely cooked and dried.


We especially love upcycling ingredients because oftentimes these are high quality, "human grade" foods that don't fit the bill for sale. We humans tend to be pretty picky, and only want the prettiest, most pristine, or most perfectly ripe products - leaving millions of tons of food that isn't sold every year. We definitely have some "bigger picture" issues with food waste in the US that need addressed. While people come to terms with the fact that foods don't have to look perfect to be good, we can give these wholesome ingredients to our pets - who tend to appreciate food and treats no matter what they look like!

One of the benefits of upcycling is that it can give an economic incentive for manufacturers to reduce waste. Most companies have to pay by the ton for waste to be hauled away. If they are able to divert food waste to processes that can turn it into something of economic value, it's win-win for that company, for our pets, and for the planet!

What are we doing here at Ag-Alchemy?

Our society is becoming more and more conscious of the strain we put on our natural systems, and it's critical that we find innovative solutions to use our resources efficiently, in ways that benefits both our pets and our planet. 

We partner with local quality farms and food manufacturers and find ways to put their off-spec food to good use, as well as grocery stores to utilize fruits and veggies that might not sell with enough time to enjoy them. We're able to upcycle things like pumpkins and apples, bread, cheese, highly nutritious organs like beef liver, and more. We're always looking for new partnerships and applications to produce quality, environmentally friendly animal nutrition products!