Bridging The Knowledge Gap & Driving Innovation For A Healthier Food System
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Food insecurity, the inability to access or afford enough food or enough nutritious food for one’s overall health and well-being, is a serious problem in both developing and developed nations. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, more than one in five (21.6%) adults in the United States reported household food insecurity in the summer of 2022, an increase of more than 6% from April 2021.
One of the major contributors to food insecurity is colossal food waste. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 30 – 40 percent of the annual US food supply is wasted. It is a significant global issue, with approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption going to waste. This waste not only squanders valuable resources like water, land, and energy used in production but also contributes to food insecurity, as millions of people around the world lack access to an adequate and nutritious food supply.
Evidently, we can make significant headway in combating food insecurity by reducing food waste. Upcycling and extending the shelf life of food have emerged as two practical methods for addressing food waste.
Upcycling involves using food items that may not meet traditional commercial standards, such as misshapen fruits and vegetables or surplus food from supermarkets and restaurants, and transforming them into new products with added value. Examples include using bruised or surplus fruits to create fruit preserves or turning vegetable scraps into nutritious broths. This not only reduces food waste but also provides additional food options, contributing to increased food availability for vulnerable populations.
Shelf-life extension – Extending the shelf life of perishable foods can help prevent spoilage and reduce the need for early disposal, thereby reducing waste. This can be achieved through various techniques, such as improved storage facilities, modified atmosphere packaging, and the use of natural preservatives. By increasing the longevity of food products, more time is available for distribution and consumption, which can help ensure that food reaches those in need before it spoils.
Food waste solutions have remained top of mind for investors, consumers and innovators in 2023.
Investment in food waste solutions remains robust despite general pull back in overall investments given the current macroeconomic environment. As of July 2023, over $800M has been invested in food waste solutions this year (source ReFed). If this rate of investment persists for the balance of the year, 2023 investment levels would be comparable to 2022.
Demand and supply of upcycled food products on the rise
According to Global Market Insights, the worldwide upcycled food market was valued at $54B in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 5.7% over the next ten years, topping $94B in value by 2023. Innovative companies continue to introduce new upcycled products to meet customer demand. For example, Upcycled Inc partnered with Kroger to launch a new upcycled bread line – Seeded multigrain bread and Multigrain Quinoa Bread in May 2023.
Sustained investment in research and development is helping to create more efficient food preservation technologies that can help extend the shelf life of perishable items.
Through innovative technology, new solutions are being introduced to extend the shelf life of fruits and other perishables pre and post harvest.For example, JBT, a foodtech solutions provider, introduced an innovative plant-based coating designed to make fresh produce safer and last longer. The coating helps retain moisture in fruit, thereby delaying the onset of rot and extending the shelf life.
Keeping this focus on reducing food waste, we can make significant progress in alleviating food insecurity while promoting a more sustainable and responsible approach to food production and consumption.
In the second article in our mid-year series, we turn our focus to collaboration in food innovation. Here at FoodNiche, we are firm believers in the power and importance of the collaborative effort of all key stakeholders to drive food innovation. It takes broad-based cooperation across the spectrum to create a healthier, sustainable food future. As Bill Gates pointed out in his book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, “the food system is one of the most important areas where we need to collaborate. We need to find ways to produce more food, while using fewer resources and reducing our impact on the environment. This is a challenge that we can only solve by working together.”
These synergies take many forms and are valuable at every point in the supply chain. Increasingly, food stakeholders are joining forces – public and private sector, industry and academia, established brands and startups – for the greater good. It’s truly a case of the whole being significantly greater than the sum of the parts.
One area of growing collaboration is in the alternative protein space. Several established CPG and meat brands have established a stake in alternative proteins through direct investment and partnerships as shown in the chart from Good Food Institute.
Source: Good Food Institute
Precision Fermentation Alliance formed in Q1 2023
The Precision Fermentation Alliance (PFA), a brainchild of nine leading startups in the precision fermentation field, was established in February 2023 to collectively unlock the potential of this technology for alternative protein production. The alliance is made up of scientists, nutritionists, entrepreneurs and educators from the participating companies bound together by a mission to accelerate the understanding of and advocate for the use of precision fermentation to develop a more resilient, equitable and sustainable food future for humans and the planet. Founding members of the PFA are Change Foods, The Every Co., Helaina, Imagindairy, Motif FoodWorks, New Culture, Onego Bio, Perfect Day and Remilk.
$1M Seeding the Future Global Food System Challenge
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is hosting the third annual Seeding the Future Global Food System Challenge. The Challenge, funded by the Seeding the Future Foundation, fosters innovation at all levels ranging from idea generation to development and scale-up. Participants have a chance to win a share of the $1M total award.
Participation is open to scientists, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs and multidisciplinary teams from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits, social enterprises, universities, research institutions as well as small and emerging for- profit enterprises working on game-changing innovations that will help transform the food system.
“Transformational change is urgently needed to create food systems that improve the health of people and the planet. All game-changing innovations begin with seeds of ideas which need support to grow and become impactful. This is the foundation the Challenge is built on. We are excited and look forward to the highly impactful entries we receive for this year’s Challenge,” said Bernhard van Lengerich, founder of Seeding The Future Foundation.
The Challenge is focused on high-impact, scalable innovations in one of the following intersecting domains: nutritious food for a healthy diet; sustainably produced; and accessible, appealing, affordable, and trusted by consumers. Visit the IFT website to learn more about the challenge and submit an application before the August 1 deadline.
This new technology allows people to have the coffee beans roasted right before brewing. This new roaster, called the e23, accomplishes more than just giving people fresh-roasted coffee, it is better for the environment. Traditional coffee bean roasting methods consist of roasting the beans over gas-powered flames, which are both very energy-intensive and produces a lot of CO2.
Naturli’ is a leading plant-based company focused on captivating an American audience with its product’s taste and quality. The company, already having massive success in 40 different countries, expects to have continued success in the US.
Food Safety News
Mondelez Global LLC is recalling two varieties of their belVita Sandwiches because the products may contain undeclared peanuts due to cross-contact on a manufacturing line. As of July 5, 2023, there have been three unconfirmed reports of allergic reactions.
Kraft Heinz has developed a policy with guidance from the Accountability Framework and Science Based Target Initiatives’ aid. The company has even gone further and has said, “Beyond this, we are committed to working within our own operations and with our suppliers and business partners to achieve conversion-free practices by 2030. This includes management and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water consumption and maintenance and protection of biodiversity, natural habitats, water sources, and water bodies”
Food Safety News
Estancia Holdings was notified by their French supplier about the potential contamination. The product is a wheel of cheese, wrapped in clear plastic with an Ottavi dairy label on top.
Food Safety News
60,000 units of Martinelli’s Gold Medal apple juice, due to a potential issue that may result in glass chips in the product.
Europe: Dutch Government To Approve Cultivated Meat and Seafood Tastings – Green Queen
The Netherlands will be giving cultivated meat tastings a green light, marking a significant milestone for the country that launched the category more than a decade ago.
North America: Joyful Ventures Announce $23M Fund To Support Sustainable Protein Startups – TechCrunch
US Based New Venture fund, Joyful Ventures aims to propel the transition of the colossal $1.5t global animal protein sector toward sustainable food practices.
Europe: Award Winning Beef Producer Finnebrogue Will Develop Cultivated Wagyu with Ivy Farm – Green Queen
Food industry giant Finnebrogue and foodtech startup Ivy Farm Technologies have just embarked on a world-first mission to offer cultivated Wagyu beef burgers to the British market.
New Research Outlines Blueprint for Sustainable Protein Production in Asia – Green Queen
A new study from Asia Research and Engagement (ARE) highlights the impact of animal protein production on greenhouse gas emissions across Asia’s ten largest markets.