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Data snapshot: VCs bet on upcycling, insects and inventory management software to cut food waste in 2022

April 5, 2023

Data Snapshot is a regular AFN feature analyzing agrifoodtech market investment data provided by our parent company, AgFunder.

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Reversing the world’s massive food waste problem could produce enough to feed 2 billion people. It’s also a top solution for mitigating climate change, says non-profit think tank ReFed.

“More businesses are recognizing the impacts food waste solutions can have on sustainability goals as well as the opportunities they offer for investment returns,” the organization noted in a special food waste management section of AgFunder’s Global Agrifoodtech Investment Report 2023.

Data from the new report shows a drop in investments in North America for food waste mitigation solutions. In 2022, startups raised $1.7 billion, down from $2 billion in 2021. The number of deals also fell, to 117, the lowest deal count since 2018.

However, this does not include the deal value for the Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods merger, whose size remains undisclosed. Including this deal, AgFunder estimates that the total level of investment for 2022 is likely around $2 billion, roughly in line with 2021. 

Outside of that deal, the decline in both funding and deals was driven largely by the macro environment and is in line with overall numbers for agrifoodtech investment.

Top food waste deals of 2022

Investors poured money almost equally into the Recycling and Prevention categories of food waste mitigation. Some of the top deals included:

  • Afresh secured $115 million to help food retailers cut waste by optimizing their inventory strategy.
  • Anuvia Plant Nutrients, which upcycles organic waste into agricultural inputs, secured $65.5 million.
  • Bioveritas landed $65 million and uses fermentation to upcycle waste to clean-label ingredients.
  • Restaurant-focused startups helping food service companies improve efficiency and reduce waste included PreciTaste, which landed $24 million, and Galley with $14.2 million.
  • Better Origin (Entomics), which uses insects to turn food waste into animal feed, secured $16 million. 
  • Another food retail operations platform, Vori, landed $10 million. 
  • Supply chain and logistics providers Wheelocity secured $9.6 million. 
  • Surplus food management platform Goodr raised $7.8 million. 
  • Shelf-life extending packaging tool Ryp Labs (StixFresh) raised $7.2 million.

Over the years, more funding has gone into food waste prevention solutions compared to downstream (close to the consumer) options like redistributing surplus food, which has historically received minimal funding.

In 2022, investors shifted focus to recycling solutions, as evidenced by Goodr’s $10 million raise, the largest the segment has garnered since 2018. 

While ReFed’s focus is only on North America, the food waste issue is a worldwide problem prompting a variety of responses around the globe. For example, South Korea now recycles 95% of food as consumers pay for compulsory food waste recycling. France also made headlines recently for banning the disposal of unsold food products in and effort to fight food waste. 

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