With edible cutlery, you can cut food safety risks and save costs at the same time. What’s more, these spoons and plates are not just environmentally friendly, they’re delicious and nutritious too!

Edible Cutlery 101

Imagine reducing your pile of dirty dishes to zero. Imagine never having to clean your tables of crusty plates and soggy spoons after customers finish their meals. Imagine watching a customer wolf down your roast beef and the dish on which it was served. As it happens, scenes like these are already unfolding at dozens of restaurants around the world. Edible cutlery and crockery is no longer a wild, futuristic idea. Spoons and plates you can eat are slowly, but surely, nudging expensive china- and metalware off the table.

Edible cutlery comprises a range of utensils you can eat. Easily compostable, they are typically made with different types of flour, gelatine/starch, spices, water and occasionally chocolate or flavoring agents. These spoons and bowls are 100% safe to consume.

Small experiments around edible cutlery have been going on for years. But the idea finally caught on in the late 2000s, when an Indian groundwater researcher, Narayan Peesapatty, saw the amount of plastic waste produced daily and wanted to do something about it. After years of research, he created a model for utensils made from millet, rice, and wheat flour. After receiving an overwhelming response to his invention, he started a company called Bakeys to sell his environment-friendly edible cutlery. Peesapatty's idea found a global audience in the mid-2010s after a news report about his environmentally-friendly products went viral. Since then, a flurry of new start-ups has made it their mission to develop edible utensils, turning what was a fringe idea into a mainstream trend.

A Perfect Alternative to Disposable Cutlery?

A study conducted by US scientists in 2017, published in the journal Science Advances, found that 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic have been produced on earth thus far. Of that, 6.3 billion metric tons have become waste. It means that only 9% of the plastic has been recycled. It's a huge number, considering that the production of plastic only began seven decades ago. According to the non-profit organization Habits of Waste, around 40 billion disposable forks, knives, and spoons, made of plastic are thrown away annually, and that's only in the United States. Then, the Ocean Conservancy's website has a list of items that are "most deadly" to birds, sea turtles, and mammals. Among these items is plastic cutlery.

This is a monumental problem because it takes centuries for plastic to degrade. And as unfortunate as it is, the peer-reviewed research from Science Advances found that over 70% of this plastic is now classified as waste and has ended up in landfills or in our natural environment, like oceans and rivers. This isn't good news.

Eco-warriors are on their toes, trying to salvage the situation. The years of damage may not be solved at once, but it isn't impossible if the right resources and ideas are put into place. The good news is that innovative ideas are being constantly explored to find a way out of the mess created by Industrialization.

As more people become interested in sustainability, eco-companies are working to create eco-friendly products that generate less Food Waste. Some of these companies are working to reduce or eliminate the use of disposable plastic within the food industry -- which produces a considerable amount of plastic waste year on year.

One way they are doing this is by creating edible cups, spoons, plates, bowls, chopsticks, and straws. These items can be eaten after they are used, eliminating the need to recycle them. The change is happening slowly, but it can potentially have a big environmental impact. fuelling-a-new-food-trend
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Fuelling A New Food Trend

In the second week of July 2022, to mark National Fries Day, the food processing company Heinz popular for its ketchup, launched spoon-shaped fries. Heinz has long been a company that has pushed the envelope when it comes to food innovation. With the release of its tomato blood costume kit for Halloween and its Dip & Crunch condiment for burgers, Heinz continues to break new ground with its Heinz Spoon Friez french fries series. Aware of the limitations of traditional fries to scoop up enough ketchup, the company found a solution in spoon-shaped fries.

KFC introduced its first edible coffee cup made of biscuit in the mid-2010s, followed by 'rice-bowlz' made of tortilla. The trend only picked up when British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal served edible cutlery made with chocolate-dusted silver and salted butter caramel in edible cellophane.

As gimmicky as it may sound, the idea may only fuel the fire for more edible utensils that can be clubbed with a variety of dishes. And it has a purpose too in reducing single-use plastic spoons, plastic bottles, and other cutlery.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to an exponential surge in online food delivery services, which in turn has accelerated the consumption of single-use plastics. This is only expected to grow in the coming years.

Edible utensils are one solution to the problem, and they are gaining popularity. Most companies that manufacture such products believe that these are more environmentally friendly than biodegradable plastic utensils made from corn plastic, which need to be subjected to high heat in specialized composting facilities to break down. On the other hand, edible utensils -- made of food-grade material --even if dumped after use, decompose in a few days.

Purists, however, aren't convinced of its impact. Some are of the opinion that, at the end of the day, these edible utensils are single-serve too and use multiple resources to be produced. They could therefore harm the planet in the long run, with their massive resource- and energy consumption. They believe multi-use utensils are more environment friendly as they require few resources.

Doubts about its long-term effects haven't however stopped people from experimenting with edible cutlery. Edibles by Jack, Sorbos, Cupfee, IncredibleEats, and TwentyFiftyFork are only a few companies trying to create interesting edible utensils to limit our collective carbon footprint.

How Food Businesses Are Already Integrating Edible Cutlery?

Many restaurants worldwide have already adopted the new movement -- some are doing it to reduce plastic waste, some to ride the sustainable bandwagon, and some simply want to latch on to emerging Restaurant Trends. After all, edible knives and forks work marvelously as a marketing hook. Whatever the reason, edible cutlery is making the world sit up and take notice. Here are four food and beverage industry players with edible cutlery integrated into their business-

  1. Soupstation -- an eco cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia -- is on a mission to reduce waste. They do this by serving food on edible plates, with edible cutlery. The crockery and utensils you eat are made of wheat, sunflower oil, salt, and water, and what's more -- they're baked fresh while you wait. Aleksander Tumansky, director of Soupstation, says customers can see their cutlery being baked in front of them when they order.
  2. Dippin' Dots, the American company that sells cryogenically frozen bead-based ice cream, announced in January 2022 that it plans to partner with IncredibleEats, a startup that makes environmentally friendly edible spoons. The ice-cream company will begin rolling out the new spoons later this year.
  3. In 2020, two companies teamed up to bring an eco friendly option to the United States market. Sorbos, a sustainable solutions provider, partnered with foodservice broker Green Nature Marketing to introduce Sorbos edible straws in the US. The 100% biodegradable straws are available in multiple flavors and can stay rigid for up to 40 minutes in cold and frozen beverages. The straws made their limited-time debut at Tropical Smoothie Cafe with the cafe's special cranberry smoothies. The menu strategy and innovation VP for the cafe, Alice Crowder, said that their brand is "about sharing flavor and fun," and the straws contribute to both. And since then, Sorbos has only expanded its market in the US with the company claiming that its straws are soon going to be used by thousands and thousands of fast-food chains across America. The Sorbos straws are made of water, sugar, gelatin, and maize starch and contain 23 calories each. It is available in five flavors- lime, strawberry, green apple, lemon, and chocolate.
  4. In late 2019, Lavazza -- one of the world's largest coffee producers -- joined hands with cup-maker Cupffee. Cupffee produces a range of vegan coffee cups that stay crunchy for up to 60 minutes, and contain only 56 calories. Now, Cupffee edible cups are part of Lavazza's product line, offered in 18 countries across the world.
Image from pixabay.com

Five Reasons Why Edible Cutlery Could Be Good For You?

  1. Edible cutlery offers a healthy and eco friendly alternative to traditional plastic or paper flatware.
  2. It is the latest trend in green living. These utensils are made from all-natural ingredients and are free from harmful chemicals and additives. They're also 100% biodegradable, so you can feel good about using them without harming the environment. They help mitigate climate change.
  3. Edible cutlery is just like any other food item and strict Food Safety rules are observed when making them. This ensures better public health by preventing contamination from dirty dishes.
  4. Edible cutlery is single-use. It's designed to be eaten, not reused.
  5. Edible cutlery and crockery products are dehydrated, ensuring long shelf-life and without preservatives, making them safe to eat. Even if bacteria or other microorganisms manage to survive the baking process, they're unlikely to have the moisture they need to grow and reproduce.

How Can Edible Cutlery Benefit A Restaurant?

  1. Edible cutlery not only decreases the use of plastic, but is also a sustainable way to replace plastic cutlery. It gives your restaurant a chance to contribute to the sustainable movement.
  2. Most edible utensils are made from sorghum, which contains fiber, iron, protein, and calcium and is naturally high in micronutrients. Then there are gluten-free options. It provides a restaurant with ways to introduce more products to its patrons.
  3. And, of course, it's a great marketing hook as customers are always looking to try out new things.
Image from pixabay.com

Edible Cutlery is Here to Stay — And it’s Growing!

The global edible cutlery market is growing rapidly, largely due to the rising demand for healthy eating options. Plastic bowls and spoons are not healthy, so people are looking for alternatives. Additionally, the availability of various grains, including rice and millet, is increasingly driving market growth.

People are also becoming more aware of the pollution caused by plastics. This awareness is causing manufacturers to develop eco friendly products. In addition, non-profit organizations and business affiliates have launched various programs to reduce plastic consumption for a better environmental impact. Many Small Businesses are also looking at this trend as a way to expand their product line.

The global edible cutlery market has experienced significant growth in recent years. In 2018, the market size was valued at USD 22.6 million. It was valued at USD 29.40 million in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 59.10 million by 2029, registering a CAGR of 9.12% during the forecast period of 2022-2029. Data Bridge Market Research has curated this report to provide an overview of the current market landscape and future growth prospects of these innovative dining implements.