Why Byproducts Are Complicated

Posted by on Jun 28, 2018

We get calls from time to time for ingredients that someone is trying to track down. Often it is a complicated item. Recently, I got the call about Organic Beet Pulp. Seems like a simple request. They grow a lot of crops for organic food use. You can buy Organic Sugar, so why not Organic Beet Pulp?

I explained Beet Pulp production in an earlier blog, but to remind you all: Sugar beets are grown in the US and are the main source of US grown sugar. Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho, and California are all large beet production areas. The sugar beets are cut and cooked to extract the sugar content, the sugar is refined down to brown sugar, molasses, and white granular sugar. The part of the plant that remains after the sugar is extracted is dried and used for feeding multiple species.

I have a dilemma in fulfilling this particular request from a feed manufacturer. They wish to find a source of Beet Pulp for an organic feed mix they were producing. As people choose more and more to look at Organic as an option, we are seeing more requests for Organic versions of popular byproducts.(We have found though, that the food processing plants are not at a scale of operation of Organic foods, that they can make a large volume of Organic Byproducts. )

In this particular case, the USA does not product Organic Sugar from Sugar Beets. It is produced from Organic Sugar Cane production. The food market has not grown a need for Organic Beet Sugar. Therefore no need for the food processors to switch a plant over to Organic certified production. A byproduct or coproduct as we have come to call them over the years, is an offshoot of the original product. Because of this, we are at the mercy of the food manufacturer to make decisions such as this. Though we may have a market for an Organic Beet Pulp, if they don’t have a set use for the original product, they won’t produce the coproduct/byproduct.

We see a similar issue on things like Soy Hull Pellets. Soy hulls are the outside, fiberous shell of the soybean. It is removed prior to soy flour and soy bean meal production. These are pelleted and sold as a fantastic source of fiber and protein in farm animal diets. Though Organic Soybean Meal and Organic Soy food products are very much in demand, the plants are often not set up to separate their organic byproduct from the conventional production. So all of the Organic Soy Hulls get grouped with the conventional ones.

The demand may be around for certain ingredients, but because they are a coproduct/byproduct of food production, it is often and afterthought or no seen by a plant as a priority for changing it.