FoodBytes! NYC Trends: Farmer-First Tech, Waste Prevention, Plant-Based Proliferation + More
As we gear up for FoodBytes! San Francisco on March 28, we’re excited to share a deep dive into the trends we saw take the stage at FoodBytes! NYC last Fall. SomaDetect, Winnow and Wasteless won the top prizes for pioneering solutions for a more sustainable future of food and agriculture, though every startup proved that they are helping change the industry for the better. From waste prevention to farmer-first agtech, take a closer look at the emerging FoodBytes! NYC startup trends below, and make sure to get your tickets to FoodBytes! San Francisco today.
Stopping Waste Before it Starts
Target 12.3 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals aims to halve the amount of per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level as well as reduce food losses along production and supply chains by 2030. While this is a substantial goal, the reality is that reduced waste throughout the food and agriculture value chain is profitable for all stakeholders. In a comparison of 1,200 international companies who invested in reducing food waste, Champions 12.3 found that 99% of them made a positive ROI and 50% of them earned at least $14 for each dollar they invested.
Several FoodBytes! NYC pitch companies are working towards less food waste along the supply chain and achieving Target 12.3. Afresh Technologies builds supply chain software that delivers data-driven decisions to significantly reduce food waste, increase freshness and multiply the profitability of perishable foods. Focusing on both reducing waste and optimizing shelf space, Wasteless developed a dynamic pricing system that allows supermarkets to price and sell products based on expiration dates. Winnow, recipient of the People’s Choice Award, creates digital tools that allow real-time data monitoring of discarded food in commercial kitchens, thereby helping chefs run more sustainable and profitable businesses. Minimizing waste and increasing efficiency, Ingest.ai works to connect all of a restaurant’s third-party systems covering finance, inventory and staffing to provide insights for better decision-making.
Upcycling Food Waste
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one-third or 1.3 billion tons of the food produced each year gets lost or wasted. Out of all food products, fruits and vegetables have the highest wastage rates at 45%, followed by fish and seafood at 35%. Medium and high-income countries have the largest amount of food waste at later stages in the supply chain, but many brands are finding new ways to reuse edible food products and help reverse this trend.
Pulp Pantry is making use of the 1 million pounds of pulp that a single large commercial juicery might produce each year by reinventing classic childhood snacks using fresh fruit and vegetable juice pulp. This pulp that might otherwise end up in a landfill is full of fiber and contains half the nutrients of a whole fruit or vegetable with only one-third of the sugar. RIND Snacks keeps the peel on its dried fruit to maximize nutrition and minimize waste given that edible peels represent an estimated 15% of the 1.3 billion tons of annual food waste. Focusing on seafood waste, OneForNeptune creates sustainable seafood jerky from undervalued and underutilized white fish that is traceable to small-scale US West Coast fisheries.
Beverage categories are evolving from their traditional, well-defined characteristics to include multipurpose beverages that provide value beyond taste and thirst satiation. RaboResearch estimates that by 2030, the leading beverage companies are less likely to be defined by category. Instead, they will be differentiated by consumption occasion and consumer needs, with portfolios straddling multiple existing and crossover products. Combining the benefits of energy drinks and nutritional beverages, BrainJuice created an all-natural brain supplement in a highly absorbable shot that supports focus, clarity, memory and good mood. Sweetie Pie Organics is also integrating nutrition in its lactation smoothie to help make pregnancy and motherhood easier. Additionally, Rise Brewing Co. is blurring the categories of beer, coffee and energy drinks with the world’s first and only line of shelf-stable, organic nitro cold brew coffee and oat milk lattes in kegs and cans.
Agricultural technology is rapidly improving with innovative developments reshaping the industry and allowing for more sustainable and productive farms. Helping farmers save the 12% of crops lost each year to microscopic roundworms, Pheronym offers nontoxic solutions for plant protection through the use of pheromones to control the worms’ behavior and development. SomaDetect, winner of the Judges’ Choice Award, is a deep learning and AI dairy company that developed an in-line optical sensor to measure every compound in raw milk from every cow at every milking. As measurements are taken, information is sent to the cloud within seconds and is accessible to farmers by phone or computer so that they can make critical decisions in a timely manner. Dropnostix has also created a farmer-first technology in the form of sensor-based cow monitoring. Through a small sensor that is ingested and then permanently inside the animal, farmers have greater insight into herd health by continuously receiving data on temperature, movement and digestive activity for each cow.
According to research from HealthFocus International, 17% of US consumers claim to eat mainly plant-based and 60% say they are cutting back on meat-based products. Given this strong market opportunity, many companies are focused on developing products that make eating fruits and vegetables tastier and more convenient for an even wider audience. Frecious makes squeezable packs of whipped whole vegetables that have a five-month shelf life and can be enjoyed alone or as a dip or spread. Ocean Hugger Foods is also providing plant-based options in a more familiar form with its vegetable-based “seafood” that mimics the taste, appearance and texture of fish. Agragen is sourcing Camelina Sativa, an environmentally friendly oil seed crop, to make plant-derived “fish oil” for human nutrition and other applications.
Smart Tools throughout the Supply Chain
Focusing on commercial kitchens, Dexai Robotics is introducing an automated helping hand named Alfred to the restaurant industry. Alfred is a flexible commercial commodity robot arm that systematizes food assembly, adapts to any standard kitchen layout and produces 50 orders per robot per hour with far more precision than humans. Utilizing active and intelligent packaging solutions, The Internet of Packaging by Water.io delivers product quality data, usage metrics and convenience to the entire supply chain, from brand owners to consumers. Also offering smart tools for consumers, Spinn provides a bean-to-cup single serve coffee maker that is Wi-Fi enabled and connects to its proprietary app for remote control and automatic ordering of additional coffee.