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How food innovators are finding ways to reduce food waste

Updated: May 12

Food Waste Call-to-Action

As the world population continues to rise, questions on how we will feed the population follow. According to the UN, to keep up with the influx of population growth, food production would have to increase by 70%. In the U.S., reforms are being proposed to the Biden administration to eliminate food loss and waste; the current plan calls for allocating $650 million annually on organic waste recycling and other food reduction strategies at least until the year 2030. Among the recommendations from the US Food Loss & Waste Policy Action's are investing in the infrastructure to prevent organic waste from entering landfills and incinerators and requiring a national date labeling standard.

To demonstrate how large of an issue food waste is, if it were a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon dioxide, followed by China and the U.S..

Food waste is a major contributor to world hunger, an issue further exacerbated by the pandemic. Let's explore how food tech startups are finding creative solutions to prevent food waste.

Apps and Services

Too Good to Go is an app launched in 2016 from Copenhagen that serves as a marketplace for surplus food.

Too Good to Go is a market place that salvages food from retailers before it gets dumped as waste, and sells goods to users at a great discount. So far, the company has saved 50 million meals (65,000 businesses have sold on Too Good To Go) and 30 million people have used the service.

Imperfect Foods is a delivery service that customizes its packages to user preferences, however all items are salvaged from being sent to landfills.

Imperfect foods is a food delivery service that redistributes surplus, "flawed" groceries and items that would otherwise go to a landfill that are still good to eat. Their food rescuing mission is being noticed by venture capitalists. Imperfect Foods just secured $95M in its Series D.

Products & Packaging

JOI's nut pastes in their fully compostable packaging.

With JOI, making your own plant-based milk has never been easier or less wasteful. JOI is a company that created shelf-stable, smooth nut pastes that can be blended with water to make fresh milks in the comfort of your home. The only ingredients are nuts, depending on the type you order, and eliminate packaging, food spoilage, and maintain the nutritional value of the plant-based milk.

Sufresca , an Israeli startup, created an edible coating for fresh products to maintain their shelf life. The coating itself is safe, bio-based and biodegradable . The liquid formulations that make up the coatings are specified for the type of produce, including coatings for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, garlic bulbs, pomegranate seeds, etc.. The produce, in its coating, can be in ambient temperatures, shelf-life is extended by several weeks.

Sufresca's coating in action, demonstrating its longer-lasting capabilities.

AI Data Analytics

Wasteless is using AI to create a dynamic pricing model for grocery retailers to capture the full value of their perishable products.Understanding consumer habits, Wasteless offers pricing at the optimal selling point to customers, marking items higher once they have surpassed that threshold.

An example of Wasteless pricing model.

Seebo, an Israeli startup, predicts and prevents process-based production losses using AI. It is a proactive platform that helps prevent losses in production preemptively, and even provides recommendations and alerts to production teams on their platform. Among its users are Nestle, Mondelez, PepsiCo, and Barilla. Seebo recently reached $24M in funding in a series B financing round to expand the AI-powered technology that reveals hidden production losses.

UBQ has launched 7,200 trays, replacing the typical plastic trays, in 30 McDonald's across Brazil.

Tel-Aviv based startup, UBQ Materials, converts food waste, soiled cardboard, and other raw materials into reusable bio-based plastic-like material to replace conventional plastics. This is beyond typical recycling; UBQ is taking landfill-destined waste and converting it into thermoplastic material that meets industry machinery and manufacturing standards.

Food waste is being tackled on many fronts, from food distribution to preservation to the materials we use and the AI that helps us make improved decisions.

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