U.S. food waste startups raised $125 million in 10 months to combat the $218 billion food waste problem in the United States.
In the U.S., more food ends up in landfills than any other type of waste and due to cosmetic reasons such as “ugly” produce as much as 40% of food goes uneaten or about $165 billion pounds of food is wasted each year.
In an interview with AgFunderNews, Alexandria Coari, ReFED’s capital & innovation director said “Consumer awareness has increased, major food businesses have made commitments to food waste reduction, sound public policy continues to emerge, and as shown by this report, investment in food waste solutions has increased significantly.”
This investment in changing the food landscape is led by a few foundations. The Rockefeller Foundation, The Walmart Foundation as well as public funding from CalRecycle remain some of the top funders of grants helping startups reduce waste.
According to a report from ReFed, a non-profit pledging to reduce food waste in the United States, food waste startups fall into “one (or more) of the 27 prevention, recovery and recycling solution categories identified in the Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste.”
- WISErg – $19.2m, January 2018
- FoodMaven – $8.6m, January 2018
- Bluecart – $5m, April 2018
- California Safe Soil – $1.4m, April 2018
- AgShift – $2m, April 2018
- Apeel Sciences – $70m, July 3018
- Full Harvest – $8.5m, August 2018
- Goodr – $1.1m, August 2018
- TeleSense – $6.5m, August 2018
- ReGrained – $2.5m, September 2018
- Ripe.io – $2.4m, September 2018
- Wasteless – $2m, October 2018
- Spoiler Alert – $N/A
- Imperfect Produce – $N/A
The so called “ugly” produce problem is being challenged by startups that are changing produce into products that entice consumers. A few startups have converted juice processing waste in to bioplastic beverage packaging, have used mushroom waste as a natural taste enhancer and have reused almond waste to create sugar or beer.
To combat the food waste issue “$18 billion in funding is needed to reduce U.S. food waste by 20% over the next ten years and would yield $100 billion in societal economic value,” according to the 2018 U.S. Food Waste Investment Report.
Devon Klatell, Food Strategy Lead and Senior Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation said “If we are able to advance a more sustainable, less wasteful food system, we will preserve precious planetary resources and create more opportunities to nourish the 41 million Americans that currently lack consistent access to food.”