Riff Energy+ plant-based drink disrupts the energy sector with recycled cascara fruit

March 07, 2022 — American cold brew coffee brand Riff has unveiled a plant-based drink made from Riff Energy+ recycled cascara, which is certified as carbon neutral under the Carbonfund Carbon Free Product Certification Program .org, the first in the region with the distinction.

“We are all coffee enthusiasts at Riff, but as we learn more and more about the impact of coffee on the environment related to food waste, as well as the difficult conditions coffee farmers face every day , there’s no way we can stay complacent,” says Paul Evers, CEO and co-founder of Riff.

“Our focus quickly shifted to developing a product that would generate a positive impact. Riff’s goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prevent the waste of nutrient-dense foods and help vulnerable coffee-growing communities,” says Riff.

According to Innova Market Insights, Europe has the world’s largest energy drink market by NPD, with a 47% share, although it drops to third with 17% by sales value, indicating a plus great potential for growth. North America was the second leading region for energy drink launches in 2021.

Cascara promoted from waste
Traditionally, cascara is dismissed as coffee trash, but Riff has exploited its exotic fruit flavor profiles, natural caffeine and rich nutrient content, including high levels of antioxidants, potassium, iron and magnesium.

Rich in vitamin C and powerful antioxidants, Riff Energy+ was considered carbon neutral prior to this certification based on the cross-correlation of two Riff-sponsored studies conducted in 2020: a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by the University of Oregon and an Environmental Impact Study conducted by Oregon State University.

One of the main findings of the environmental impact study revealed that approximately 70 billion pounds of cascara are discarded worldwide each year. Food waste accounts for around 10% of global food-related emissions, or 20-40% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Forward-thinking companies continue to prove that new products, like energy drinks, can be part of the fight against climate change. Riff takes its environmental responsibility seriously, which is an important step towards a more sustainable future for all of us,” said Eric Carlson, President of the Carbonfund.org Foundation.Cascara contains natural caffeine and is rich in nutrients, including antioxidants, potassium, iron and magnesium.

Nestlé is also accelerating the development of products and technologies that use agricultural raw materials that would otherwise be wasted. One example is Nescafé Nativ Cascara, a soft drink made from organic cascara – the “coffee berry” fruit surrounding the bean, recently launched in Australia.

The use of raw materials and secondary streams in products or processes creates new revenue streams for farmers and start-ups that focus on the development of food ingredients or packaging materials.

Reducing the carbon impact of F&B production
Energy+ is also part of 1% For The Planet, which donates 1% of its revenue to forest preservation and reforestation projects in coffee-growing regions. The addition of the Certified Carbon Neutral seal further supports Riff’s goal of bringing more visibility to cascara and reducing the carbon impact of food and beverage production.

Since the company was founded in 2017, Riff has grown to support a circular economy by converting waste streams into sources of income for struggling coffee farmers. Supplied by a Portland-based importer, the company began experimenting with cascara in 2019.

After learning of the massive negative impact the decomposition of wasted cascara has had on the environment over the more than 400 year life of the coffee industry, Riff was led to adopt a strategy of using 100% of the agricultural value of the coffee tree.

An in-depth review of sustainability measures employed by industry players in the dairy, ingredient and flavor sectors to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reveals that common efforts are being made to supply raw materials with a reduced carbon footprint and the production of plants. based products has been prioritized.

By Inga de Jong

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