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Exclusive: Ryp Labs nets $8.1M for food-waste fighting stickers

A shelf life-extending sticker from Ryp Labs. Photo courtesy of Ryp Labs.

Seattle startup Ryp Labs raised an $8.1 million Series A to get its food waste-fighting stickers on more fruit and vegetables in retail outlets, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Reducing food waste — a massive climate and economic problem — could save businesses money, feed more people, conserve water and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Details: Ryp Labs, founded in 2017, raised the round from lead investor King Philanthropies, and with participation from Good Investors, BCP Ventures, Argosy Foundation, and Ocean Born Foundation.

  • Ryp Labs CEO Moody Soliman says the 12-person company will use the funds to continue to develop the product and for a wider commercial launch next year.

How it works: The company's stickers release plant-based compounds that mimic how the plant naturally protects itself and can prevent premature rotting, stimulate the plant's immune system, and extend shelf life.

  • Different combinations of compounds are used for different groups of fruits and vegetables, and Ryp Labs can also make the compound product in different formats, like little satchels.

Zoom in: Currently Ryp Labs is conducting pilots with retailers, including a recent paid-for-pilot for strawberries with a large unnamed U.S. retailer.

  • Soliman says the results of the three-month pilot were that the retailers had 50 to 66% extension of shelf life for its strawberries.
  • The retailer also surveyed customers that bought the strawberries with the stickers on the inside of the packaging and found that the customer was more satisfied with the strawberries that stayed fresher for longer in the fridge.

The big picture: Food waste is a tricky problem, and there are inefficiencies all along the supply chain from farm to table and beyond.

  • When food waste rots in landfills it emits methane, a greenhouse gas that's more potent than carbon dioxide.

The bottom line: It'll take a combination of lots of different types of solutions — from tapping digital technologies, to converting waste into energy, to changing regulations — to tackle the problem.

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