With traditional livestock farming becoming increasingly unsustainable, and as celebrities helping us wimpy westerners get over the ick factor, edible insects are an increasingly important part of the conversation around alternative sources of protein. Leading the pack is Aspire Food Group, whose CEO recently referred to the company as the Procter & Gamble of bugs — they run an e-commerce site for bugs, started their own automated cricket farm, and, recently acquired insect-protein bar maker Exo to furnish the company’s line of consumer products. While we can expect the number of players in this $1.2 billion market to increase over time, Aspire’s definitely gotten a head start by seeing more than one early opportunity in this space.
PerfectDay is using genetically engineered yeast to make cow-free milk that’s genetically identical to the real thing. And, like regular milk, it can also be used to create a myriad of dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. This technology has big implications for vegans (especially ones who also have nut or soy allergies) and can help alleviate the pressure that cattle put on our environment. Most interestingly, Perfect Day recently shifted from a B2C to a B2B model, opting to partner with dairy companies large and small to create a supply chain for animal-free dairy products, instead of producing their own brand. Ultimately, they hope this move will bring their technology to market much more quickly.
Byte Foods is reinventing the workplace lunch by creating a platform for unattended fresh food delivery in the office market. They function much like Amazon Go: Byte stocks them with popular local food items, office workers swipe their credit card and make their selections, and then the fridges scan-and-detect people’s selections and charge them accordingly. Byte relies heavily on data to optimize what they put on offer, and are constantly adjusting their selections based on customer preferences and food trends. And they recently went after the dinnertime spend by stocking Chef’d meal kits, giving workers the chance to grab dinner-in-a-box on the way home from the office, without having to stop by a grocery store.
Durham-based startup FoodLogiQ is a food safety tech company which aims to increase transparency in the food supply chain. Their SaaS platform (called FoodLogiQ Connect) helps food industry professionals trace their products’ journey from farm to fork. The platform can verify suppliers’ information, trace food on its journey throughout the supply chain, and help simplify food recalls. FoodLogiQ just launched an innovation hub to experiment with pilot tracking programs using buzzy blockchain. What with the recent Romaine E. Coli hysteria, food safety is at the front of a lot of our minds — FoodLogiQ and other food tech companies, like Ripe.io and Intelex, will play a growing role in ensuring that our food is good to eat.
One of the tricky things about ending (or at least diminishing) food waste is that it can be easy to lose track of how much food you throw out, whether you’re a business or an individual family. There’s more than one software solution out there for this (LeanPath and Spoiler Alert being notable names), but Copia stands out because it doesn’t just track food waste: it also connects users with organizations, typically non-profits, in need of all that unused food. In its native San Francisco, the company will even deliver the food to recipients. This trend of redistributing this so-called waste to places where it will get eaten is something we’ll see a lot more of, and Copia is a leading example of software turning a relatively simple concept into an efficient, sophisticated operation from which many hungry people will benefit.