Happy Friday! Chris here,
When you wake up every morning and scroll through the headlines, it’s easy to feel like we are in the darkest timeline. But then, there are weeks like this one, when bright spots appear and, for a little while, anyway, you think things just might be okay.
One thing to feel particularly hopeful about this Friday is the fight against food waste. The Guardian reports that Americans alone are wasting 150,000 tons of food a day. That’s dumb, especially when 40 million people in the U.S. are food insecure. But there are a host of startups from around the world stepping up to fight this big, dumb, problem from a number of different angles — and getting funding from the venture community.
This week, U.K.-based Tenzo and French startup Phenix raised $1.8 million and €15 Million (~$17M USD) respectively to take on food waste. Tenzo uses an AI platform to help restaurants analyze data across their operation to optimize things like food and labor spending. Phenix uses a combination of on-site training and software to divert unsold food from landfills and into charities, animal feed and recycling centers.
And food-fighting innovation is happening up and down the food stack. Taranis uses aerial imagery and computer vision to keep crops healthy. Companies like AgShift use machine learning to analyze food in the supply chain so transactions are fairly priced, and food can be routed to the optimal locations based on their ripeness.
You also see completely new ideas for food waste prevention from companies like Apeel, which uses a special plant-based coating on fruits to make them last longer. In stores, Wasteless uses dynamic pricing to reduce prices on food as they near their expiration date, and Karma teamed up with Electrolux this week to install smart fridges in grocery stores that let consumers purchase totally fine food that would otherwise be thrown out. And in our homes, technologies like Silo promise to improve the way we store food.
I could go on, but this newsletter is already at 313 words, and I need to wrap it up.
The point is: the food tech community (darkest timeline callback!) is coming together like never before, and can hopefully help make food waste a problem of the past.
But the good news doesn’t end there! There were some other cool food tech news bites from this week. One I’m particularly excited about is that it looks like Impossible Foods will be selling their plant-based burgers at retail next year! Details were slim — just an emoji based hint dropped on social media, but still! The more plant-based burger options at retail, the better!
Truly personalized food choices got a little bit closer to being commonplace this week, thanks to a couple SKS alumni. Kraft Heinz purchased wellio for an undisclosed sum. The wellio team was building an AI platform to power recipe discovery and commerce, and the acquisition will help jumpstart Kraft Heinz’s newly announced digital hub in San Francisco. Elsewhere, Analytical Flavor Systems raised $4 million to help develop its AI-powered, flavor recommending platform: Gastrograph.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, you won’t want to miss our upcoming Spoon/MiLA foodtech meetup on November 27th. We have an amazing lineup that includes the CEOs of Ordermark, Kitchen United, Pathspot, Somabar and DishDivvy. Register today — it’s free!
Finally, if you have a cool foodtech product and are going to be at CES (and you should be), you won’t want to miss the only future of food and cooking event at the world’s biggest tech show! FoodTech Live is on January 8th. You can find out more about how to participate in FoodTech Live here.
Alright, the other bit of good news is that we are at the end of this week’s newsletter and the end of the week. Go out and enjoy the weekend.