As we head into the most gluttonous week of the year here in the U.S., it’s helpful to be reminded that companies large and small continue to churn out new technologies in the ongoing war against food waste – both at the business and consumer level.
First, Boston-based tech startup Spoiler Alert has launched two offerings to help both small and large businesses connect with nonprofits for food donations. The company has scored a $2.5-million seed round of funding, led by Acre Venture Partners, to accelerate the development of its web-based platform to help reduce food waste. Last year, Spoiler Alert launched its free marketplace offering, an online portal and communications tool to facilitate food donations and discounted sales between businesses and nonprofits. To date, more than 200 organizations throughout New England have adopted the platform, with a 15 percent month-over-month growth rate since the launch.
“By enabling businesses with unsold inventory to connect in real-time with networks of non-profits and discount buyers, we see an opportunity not only to increase profitability, but also to drive greater collaboration between food manufacturers, distributors, retailers and farms with the 50,000 nonprofits committed to ending food insecurity in America,” said Spoiler Alert co-founder and CEO, Ricky Ashenfelter.
Earlier this year, Spoiler Alert expanded its reach with its Enterprise offering – a subscription-based service that helps businesses have greater visibility into their waste streams, have a potential tax shield, and benefit their communities through better distribution of food. Spoiler Alert also announced it is now working with Sysco Corporation, the global leader in foodservice distribution, to deploy Spoiler Alert’s Enterprise system for the management of its excess food.
“At Sysco, we strive to set a higher bar for economic, environmental, and social responsibility performance within our industry,” stated Catherine Kayser, Sysco’s VP of Corporate Social Responsibility. “Spoiler Alert allows us to better manage our relationships with our local nonprofit partners, serve the communities where we work and live, as well as to streamline the capture of key financial, environmental, and social metrics from our food recovery and waste diversion efforts.”
The recent funding will help build out the Spoiler Alert team, strengthen its reach within the food manufacturing, wholesale distribution and retail industries, and expand its marketplace offerings to new geographies.
Meanwhile, Whirlpool Corporation’s WLabs has developed a new device for in-home food waste disposal.
WLabs’ new food recycler, Zera™, gives consumers a way to reduce the amount of food waste they individually send to landfill by converting excess food and scraps into ready-to-use, homemade fertilizer. The recycler fits alongside most kitchen countertops and can break down a week's worth of the average family’s food waste within 24 hours, and 95 percent of a typical family’s overall food waste.
Zera is expected to appeal to a wide audience, as it is different from traditional composting, allowing families to recycle food year-round, even in colder climates where outdoor methods may not be possible. The user will also be able to control Zera remotely through a mobile app. WLabs will release Zera to a test market in early January through a crowdfunding campaign in partnership with Indiegogo, set to coincide with the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show.
Among the growing number of efforts to address the colossal amount of food waste generated by businesses and consumers, innovations such as Spoiler Alert’s platform and Zera could help foster waste-free operations and lifestyles.
“Technology is going to play a critical role in offering businesses the insights and outlets they need to minimize wasted food,” said Jesse Fink, Chairman of the ReFED Steering Committee, Founding COO of Priceline.com, and Trustee of the Fink Family Foundation, an investor in Spoiler Alert.