FOOD DIVE: Upcycled ingredients provide meaningful sustainability impact for food and beverage industry



By: Loula Merkel

A new study validates that upcycled ingredient swaps can be more effective than sustainable packaging in lowering products’ carbon footprints.

According to a 2023 Innova Market Research study, 43% of consumers consider upcycled products more appealing than other products, up from 35% the previous year and aligning with consumers’ growing interest in sustainability. This coincides with SPINS market data showing that unit sales of Upcycled Certified snacks increased by 133% in 2023.

COMET, manufacturer of Upcycled Certified Arrabina™ prebiotic dietary fibers, believes consumer demands for more accountability and traceability of ingredients are driving this interest.

“Consumers are becoming savvier regarding sustainability claims,” said COMET CEO Loula Merkel. “We see industry competitors applying “greenwashing” tactics to appear environmentally friendly, whereas we are aiming to make real change at a product development level. This is why COMET recently completed a third-party LCA study to provide actual quantification of Arrabina™ ’s sustainability impact.”

This assessment undertaken by Planet FWD, a leader in the LCA industry, measured the complete cradle-to-gate life cycle of the ingredient with a comparison of Arrabina™ to chicory root-based inulin and other similar dietary fibers. (See Image 1)

Image 1. COMET’s upcycled Arrabina™ has a 23 times lower carbon footprint compared to beta-glucan and 5 times lower than inulin

Further results demonstrate that replacing chicory root inulin for Arrabina™ in a cereal bar formulation markedly reduces the final product’s carbon footprint. On the contrary, the use of recycled packaging alone did not show a difference in the carbon footprint for the prebiotic bar, suggesting that the ingredient’s impact is more significant than the packaging in this context. (See Image 2)

Image 2. Swapping ingredients can reduce carbon footprint by >30%, while using recycled PET packaging has no impact

The use of Arrabina™ in foods, beverages and supplements can reduce emissions, contributing to the overall sustainability of the product life cycle. Loula Merkel remarks: “For COMET, delineating this LCA confirms for us that we are making good on our sustainability commitments. For our customers, this along with Arrabina™’s Upcycled Certification, helps them meet their own carbon goals and better speak to today’s environmentally conscious consumers that demand transparency.”

COMET uses its patented upcycling technology to extract prebiotic dietary fibers from crop leftovers to manufacture Arrabina™. With its excellent solubility, superior tolerability and extreme heat/pH resistance, Arrabina™ offers an easy way for manufacturers to create delicious products while strengthening nutrition labels and sustainability claims.

Andrew Richard, COMET Chief Technology Officer, is the innovator of the upcycling technology that brought Arrabina™ dietary fibers to market. He describes that: “By upcycling the abundant and naturally-occurring plant nutrition currently underutilized in our food system, we are creating a sustainable alternative that is scalable to the needs of our growing planet.” He concludes: “Arrabina™ has a multitude of health and wellness benefits for our end users; this LCA report validates the benefits to the health of the planet, as well.” 

Study sourcing:

This comparison references Product LCA cradle-to-gate analysis conducted by Planet FWD on November 2, 2023 and has been reviewed for comparable units of analysis, scope, and methodology.


COMET is an award-winning food ingredients company based in London, Ontario, and Schaumburg, Illinois. COMET is the only company with the IP and expertise needed to perfect nature’s best fiber, arabinoxylan, an FDA-recognized fiber with superior tolerance in the gut and clinically proven prebiotic health benefits. COMET’s proprietary line of Arrabina™ arabinoxylan dietary fibers are upcycled certified and can easily be added to any food or beverage application. To learn more about COMET, visit