Winners recognized for innovation in food loss mitigation, precision nutrition, and water management in redesigned program to drive collaboration for a sustainable food system
NEW YORK (December 2, 2020) — Fifteen food and agriculture entrepreneurs took the virtual stage today to present new ideas to feed the world more sustainably at the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 competition. As part of the redesigned FoodBytes! Pitch startup discovery program, Rabobank named Agricycle Global, Envara Health and SWAN Systems the 2020 winners for their breakthrough innovations in food loss mitigation, precision nutrition, and water management, respectively. The most promising startup in each category – Consumer Food & Beverage (CPG), Food Tech and Agtech – claimed $10,000 to support their business, as well as consulting services from FoodBytes! Pitch members.
The virtual pitch competition marked the culmination of Rabobank’s redesigned FoodBytes! Pitch startup discovery program, which helps entrepreneurs scale their impact in solving food system challenges through mentorship and connections to corporate and investor members – who in turn gain access to a vetted pipeline of startups aligned with their innovation goals. To earn FoodBytes! Pitch top honors, the winners distinguished themselves from 15 finalists, who were selected from the full FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 cohort of 45 startups.
“Standing out from a record field of nearly 340 applications globally, the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 winners represent the future of food and agribusiness innovation,” said Anne Greven, Head of F&A Innovation, Rabobank. “Their breakthrough technologies have the potential to help solve major food system challenges, including food loss, malnutrition, and water scarcity. That’s why FoodBytes! Pitch is about so much more than a prize. Rabobank is facilitating productive, lasting connections between startups, investors and large food and ag companies who can help drive change at a global scale together. We’d like to thank our first FoodBytes! Pitch corporate and investor members for their active participation and collaboration with these startups towards building a more sustainable food system.”
The FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 winners, by sector, are:
Consumer Food & Beverage (CPG) Award: Agricycle Global (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) for Innovation in Food Loss Mitigation
Agricycle Global impressed the judges with its innovative model that connects farmers in emerging economies to global markets through a vertically-integrated supply chain and portfolio of upcycled brands. At a time when 1.5 billion smallholder farmers account for the majority of the world’s food loss, Agricycle designs simple and scalable technologies, including solar dehydrators, to support the employment of rural farmers and reduce post-harvest food loss. The company’s field teams train members of partner cooperatives in food safety and quality standards to ensure high-quality products that are ready to sell in global markets. Its first-to-market brand, Jali Fruit Co., offers upcycled wild-harvested tropical sun-dried fruits that are fully traceable from tree to shelf.
“Being recognized as the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 CPG winner is incredible validation for our model and for our vision that it’s possible to source quality food from remote villages around the world,” said Josh Shefner, founder & CEO, Agricycle Global. “Smallholder farmers deserve to be included in the food system, and we’re proving that we can empower these farmers with the technology to create upcycled ingredients and products that fight food loss. The exposure and connections to corporate leaders and investors, as well as other entrepreneurs who are a few steps ahead in their paths, will be so impactful to us as we grow.”
Envara Health claimed top honors in the food tech category for its breakthrough structured lipid platform technology that enables the absorption of healthy long-chain fats, calories and micronutrients without the need for digestion. The company’s first clinical nutrition product, Encala®, was developed for patients with cystic fibrosis who struggle with malabsorption. The FoodBytes! Pitch judges recognized Envara Health as a first mover in plant-based healthy fats, and also noted its strong team that brings deep biotech expertise to nutrition.
“FoodBytes! Pitch is a program designed to showcase innovation and help make participating companies successful,” said Jim O’Connell, CEO and co-founder, Envara Health. “We are honored to win today, and we’ve been encouraged by the number of doors FoodBytes! has already opened for us. The right contacts at big food companies are hard to make, and we’ve been receiving outreach daily. Envara Health has an ambitious goal to address malabsorption in nutrition, and Rabobank brings together leaders that can help us achieve our mission. It’s a terrific community to be part of – now, and in the future.”
Agtech Award: SWAN Systems (Perth, Australia) for Innovation in Water and Resource Management
SWAN Systems stood out as the winning agtech company for its precision irrigation and fertilizer platform that helps growers schedule, monitor, and optimize management of water, nutrients, and crop health to improve economic and environmental outcomes. SWAN’s technology transforms historic, current and predictive data from multiple sources into actionable insights – guiding farmers to apply the right amount of water and nutrients, at the right time. The FoodBytes! judges recognized the cutting-edge nature of SWAN’s technology and its potential for significant impact on the key issue of water management.
“Water scarcity is a growing problem, and we need to be smarter about how we produce food, so this honor from FoodBytes! Pitch is about much more than an award to us,” said Rod Campbell, executive chairman, SWAN Systems. “Rabobank’s validation is a powerful force for engaging new customers and scaling our impact on sustainable agriculture. Our team has been amazed at the quality and breadth of connections we’ve made through FoodBytes! as we look to raise capital, and ultimately expand into North America.”
The 15 FoodBytes! Pitch finalists participated in series of mentorship sessions prior to the pitch competition where they received deeper mentorship and connection opportunities with FoodBytes! Pitch corporate and investor members, as well as Rabobank experts. All 45 FoodBytes! Pitch startups now become a permanent part of the FoodBytes! network of 350+ startups – with ongoing connections to corporate leaders and investors, and support from Rabobank.
FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 members are influential global food and ag companies, investors and service providers, including Presenting Partner ADM; corporate leaders Albaugh, Barilla’s Blu1877, Beta San Miguel, Dole, Fonterra, PepsiCo and Tate & Lyle; investors BFG Partners, Continental Grain Company, Germin8 Ventures and Rabobank Food and Agri Innovation Fund; and service providers DLL Group, Holland & Hart, Morrison & Foerster, Propeller Industries and TIG Brands.
To watch the replay of the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 virtual competition, please visit: https://bit.ly/FBPitch2020.
About Rabobank and F&A Innovation
Rabobank is a leading global food and agriculture bank providing sector expertise, strategic counsel and tailored financial solutions to clients across the entire food value chain. Rabobank’s F&A Innovation team supports the bank’s global mission of Growing a Better World Together – helping to turn today’s promising ideas into impactful solutions for a sustainable food supply. Through the FoodBytes! food and agriculture innovation platform, Rabobank is building a powerful engine for ongoing collaboration and innovation between food and ag change agents who want to feed the world sustainably. FoodBytes! brings together startups, leading food and ag companies and investors through two complementary programs that drive industry change: FoodBytes! Pitch and FoodBytes! Pilot. To learn more, visit foodbytesworld.com or follow FoodBytes! on LinkedIn or Twitter.
For press information, interviews or photography, please contact Katie Myers: Katie.Myers@rabobank.com | 214-766-4566
# # #