Chicago-based Hazel Technologies announced today it has closed a $13 million oversubscribed Series B funding round, bringing the company’s total funding to $17.8 million. The Series B round was led by Pangea Ventures and S2G Ventures, with participation from The Grantham Foundation and Asahi Kasei Ventures, and returning investors Rhapsody Venture Partners, Serra Ventures, and Valley Oak Investments, among others.
Hazel’s technology tackles food waste by increasing the shelf life of produce. The USDA-funded company makes packaging inserts in the form of sachets with 1-MCP technology that get placed in boxes of bulk produce at harvest time. The sachets (see image above) are biodegradable, 3.5cm packets that can be tossed amid the produce and emit a vapor that reduces the respiration rate of produce and increases resistance to the plant hormone ethylene. Doing so slows the decay of produce, increasing its shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
Right now, Hazel’s sachets work for for a number of produce types, among them avocados, plums, honeydew, and okra. The company has worked on over 100 pilots with large U.S. growers such as Dresick Farms International and Mission Produce.
In the realm of food waste, products that extend shelf life make up a small-but-growing area. Stix Fresh says it can double the shelf life of an avocado (among other types of produce) with a sticker that goes on the surface of the fruit and releases protective vapors. Apeel Sciences, which raised $70 million in 2018 and is backed by Bill Gates, makes a plant-based powder companies can mix with water and use to coat their produce before distribution. Cambridge Crops makes a protective layer for crops out of silk protein.
Hazel’s CEO, Aidan Mouat, told AgFunder News the company chose sachets because it’s easier to add them to existing packaging: “We decided to make a better delivery mechanism and to integrate with packaging that anyone in the world could use at any time.”
According to the press release, Hazel’s new funds will go towards growing its product line, launching new technologies, and adding new hires.