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The companies playing with food (waste)

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Nov 21, 2022
Illustration of a dollar sign on a grocery store checkout conveyor belt.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Pandemic bottlenecks brought the supply chain into focus, and investors have flocked to companies aiming to put a dent in food waste.

Why it matters: As the nascent space of food-waste technology grows, there's ample opportunity to roll up these solutions to create formidable players that target all silos of the food supply chain.

The big picture: The food supply chain is a vast system that connects livestock and crops, manufacturing and packaging, transportation, distribution and retailers.

  • Building resilience in the food system often yields redundancies to ensure everyone gets food, says Brita Rosenheim, managing partner of early-stage food-tech VC firm Vita Ventures.
  • “All of these redundancies that are built into the food system also create food waste,” she says.

Zoom in: That's why connecting those points in the supply chain through infrastructure and data remains pivotal, she says.

  • “When you have that visibility and data connectivity in terms of the journey of the food, and you're able to track and trace that, then that helps augment their ability to reduce food waste,” Rosenheim says.

State of play: Myriad food-waste-tech players have secured investments in the past year, all targeting various buckets of the supply chain.

Agriculture

  • Andes Ag, an Emeryville, California-based startup that makes biologically engineered microbes to treat crops for increased resiliency, secured just under $13 million of its $15 million target in equity funding.
  • Soli Organic, an indoor farming company that makes nitrogen-based fertilizer using organic waste from its facilities, raised $125 million in Series D funding.

Shelf-life extension

  • Afresh, a San Francisco-based fresh food software platform, raised $115 million in a Series B round for tech to help grocers better understand and predict inventory.

Supply-chain visibility and management

  • Vori, a Palo Alto, California-based grocery digital inventory management platform, bagged $10 million for expansion. Vori's order digitization gives companies real-time inventory visibility.
  • Choco, a German software startup that helps food producers and restaurants better manage food inventory, netted $111 million in Series B2 funding at a $1.21 billion valuation.

Reuse startups/upcycling

  • Smarter Sorting, a circular commerce data company, received an additional $7 million in funding from Leonardo DiCaprio-backed Regeneration.VC, an extension to its $25 million Series A raise.
    • Smarter Sorting helps companies determine if a product should be donated, recycled or thrown away in a landfill.
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