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Since the start of 2021, we’ve seen numerous developments that showcase how vast and varied the efforts to fight food waste have become. Sachets that slow food spoilage. Hyperspectral imaging to analyze avocados. Vodka made from old crackers. A skincare line.
All of these examples (and many others) underscore both the need for innovation and the fact that we’re getting more of it nowadays when it comes to food waste. Food waste, after all, is a global problem with environmental, monetary, and human consequences. To mitigate climate change and build a more resilient food system, the planet needs to meet food waste reduction targets set down by the United Nations, the USDA, the EPA, and others, including the UN Sustainable Development Goal of cutting food waste in half by 2050 (UN SDG Target 12.3.1).
Even just a few years ago, both the issues and the UN goal were mere abstraction to many outside the food industry. After all, it’s hard to visualize statistics like “one-third of the world’s food goes to waste” or “food waste’s global footprint is 3.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gases.”
Fortunately, groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), ReFED, the World Wildlife Fund, and others have worked tirelessly over the last several years to bring the topic of food waste closer to center stage in the conversations about our food system. In fact, ReFED estimates that the total amount of food wasted in the U.S. has leveled off since 2016, while food waste per capita has decreased 2 percent over the last three years. Meanwhile, investment is slowly but surely trickling into the space, with companies like Apeel, Imperfect Foods, and Silo closing large rounds of funding in the last several months.
Still, there is a lot of work to be done, which is where innovation can play a big role. Food waste happens at every stage of the food supply chain, from items left in the field to rot to those dumped own the drain or sent to the landfill. To curb the waste, we need more investment in the kind of infrastructure that can measure, rescue, and recycle organic waste and prevent it from going to landfills and incinerators. We also need a huge collective effort from food producers, manufacturers, retailers, restaurants, capital providers, and others, with innovation at the center of those actions.
Many are already bringing new technologies and processes to the food supply chain to try and make waste less possible. One need only glance briefly at the level of innovation currently happening around food waste to understand the breadth of entrepreneurs, companies, and agencies using their collective brainpower to build more food-waste-fighting solutions.
But rather than read a big ol’ list of companies, I instead encourage you to join us next week, on June 16, for the Food Waste Insights + Innovation Forum. The Spoon has teamed up with ReFed for the all-virtual event, which will include chats with experts across the food supply chain as well as panels and innovator demos.
At this event, we want to highlight innovators in the food waste space, acknowledging the work of companies developing everything from biosensing technology for the supply chain to shelf-life extension tools for grocery retailers to those evolving and improving the date-labeling system in the U.S. Add grocery order automation, upcycling, solutions to at-home food waste, and many other areas to that list.
The event will also connect innovators — whether you’re onstage or in the audience — with investors and capital, and will even include a session dedicated to how companies can go about raising money for their company. An open networking/demo time will also allow investors to ask one-on-one questions to innovators and vice versa.
Got ideas you want to share about how to reduce food waste? Or maybe you’re looking for a new idea or partner to help supercharge your own company’s efforts in this area, or you just want to learn more about this growing movement. Whichever the case, register today for this half-day event.
More Food Tech Headlines
LIVEKINDLY Collective Acquires Seaweed Burger Maker, The Dutch Weed Burger – The Dutch Weed Burger makes a range of meat analogs using seaweed as the hero ingredient. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Print a Drink 3D Prints Designs Inside a Cocktail, Develops Smaller Machine for Corporations – Print a Drink has created two working robots (one in the U.S. and one in Europe) that can print out custom designs inside drinks.
NPD: Shipments of Plant-Based Proteins to Restaurants Up 60 Percent Year Over Year – Shipments of plant-based proteins from foodservice distributors to commercial restaurants were up 60 percent year-over-year in April of 2021.