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    Press Release: ReFED’s 2018 U.S. Food Waste Investment Report Reveals Foundation Funding Reached $134 Million in 2016; VC Funding Reaches $125M in 2018

    Contact: Melody Serafino, [email protected]

    San Francisco, CA (November 14, 2018) – Today, ReFED, an entrepreneurial nonprofit committed to reducing the $218 billion of food waste in the United States, released the 2018 U.S. Food Waste Investment Report. The report tracks key trends in the dynamic food waste investment space, identifying $125M in VC funding in 2018. The report also includes a Special Report on Foundation Funding section revealing that foundation food waste funding reached $134 million in 2016, increasing 70% over five years.

    ReFED’s 2016 Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste estimates that $18 billion in funding is needed to reduce U.S. food waste by 20% over the next ten years and would yield $100 billion in societal economic value. The 2018 U.S. Food Waste Investment Report draws on ReFED’s in-depth fieldwork with partners and highlights specific examples of philanthropic, public, and private investment over the past two years.

    “As food waste has become a global priority, we’re excited to see rapid acceleration in the number of new products and services addressing food system efficiency,” said Alexandria Coari, Capital & Innovation Director, ReFED. “These innovators are turning food waste into jobs, hunger relief, and critical environmental benefits.”

    “Food waste is an $18 billion investment opportunity,” added Chris Cochran, Executive Director, ReFED. “ReFED is working alongside businesses, nonprofits, government leaders, and investors to provide tools and insights to help them put the most impactful food waste solutions into action.”

    Key 2018 U.S. Food Waste Investment Report insights include:

    • Direct and indirect food waste funding from foundations reached $134 million year-to-date third quarter of 2016 as funders like The Rockefeller Foundation and The Walmart Foundation continue to support solutions. Philanthropic funding, especially from foundations, continues to play a critical role in providing early-stage risk capital that helps unlock additional funding and support from private and public funders.
    • More than $125 million of venture capital and private equity funding in the first ten months of 2018 has been invested in food waste startups, driven by VC funders such as Andreessen Horowitz, S2G Ventures, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, and DBL Partners. Continued interest in agtech and foodtech innovations from private investors could lead to the crowning of food waste’s first unicorn company ($1 billion valuation) in the next few years.
      • Apeel Sciences announced $70 million in new financing led by Viking Global Investors, with Andreessen Horowitz, Upfront Ventures, S2G Ventures, and others. Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, will join Apeel Sciences’ Board of Directors and advise the company as it scales to meet demand in the U.S. and internationally.
      • Imperfect Produce, a startup selling ugly fruits and vegetables, just received a major investment from NBA all-star Kevin Durant.
    • Food waste is a burgeoning innovation sector. ReFED’s Innovator Database tracks approximately 500 innovators, half of which were founded since 2012.

    “Food waste is a huge problem hidden in plain sight,” noted Chuck Templeton, Managing Director, S2G Ventures. “Investing in it is one of the best economic and environmental opportunities in the food system.”

    “VC funding can help accelerate the development, deployment, and growth of promising new technologies and solutions,” added Patrick Sagisi, Venture Capitalist, DBL Partners. “Within our own portfolio, we’re proud to be working with Apeel Sciences, and actively looking to make new investments in this sector.”

    ReFED estimates that $290 million of the $1.8 billion annual total investment needed to reduce U.S. food waste by 20% should come in the form of philanthropic funding from private, public, and corporate foundations, family offices, and impact investments. The 2018 U.S. Food Waste Investment Report includes an in-depth Special Report on Foundation Funding that will help inform funding decisions to fill important gaps and maximize impact for 2019 and beyond. The report provides general insights, lists top funders and recipients, and shares funding trends across the categories of prevention, recovery, and recycling.

    Key Special Report on Foundation Funding insights include:

    • Total food waste foundation funding reached up to $134 million January through September 2016.
      • $20 million of this was direct funding, which is explicitly used for food waste initiatives or general funding to recipients whose missions are intrinsically tied to fighting food waste.
        • This came in the form of 355 grants and 261 unique funders with an average grant size of $56,000.
      • $114 million was indirect funding, or a portion of general funding given to food banks and similar social enterprises, not explicitly for food waste initiatives, but for whom between 25-72% of food distributed to beneficiaries is recovered food.
        • This came in the form of 4,351 grants and 2,557 unique funders with an average grant size of $37,000.
    • Total food waste foundation funding for the recovery category reached $124 million YTD 3Q16 ($9.3 million direct and $114.4 million indirect), significantly outpacing funding of prevention ($4.9 million), recycling ($1.0 million), and general ($4.6 million) categories.

    “The Walmart Foundation is proud to work with ReFED and other stakeholders in seeking solutions for food waste,” said Eileen Hyde, Director at the Walmart Foundation. “Our investments are being used to test innovations and to scale promising programs that support reducing food loss along production lines and value chains.”  

    “If we are able to advance a more sustainable, less wasteful food system, we will preserve precious planetary resources and create more opportunities to nourish the 41 million Americans that currently lack consistent access to food,” said Devon Klatell, Food Strategy Lead and Senior Associate Director at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Philanthropic funding is especially important, as it can bridge the gap between public- and private-sector support, backing solutions that might otherwise go overlooked, building capacity on the ground, and encouraging key stakeholders to move beyond commitment and take action.”

    A direct link to the 2018 U.S. Food Waste Investment Report and accompanying Special Report on Foundation Funding can be found at: https://refed.com/2018investmentreport.

    For more information about the innovators around the country creating value from food waste, visit ReFED’s Innovator Database.

    About ReFED

    ReFED is a nonprofit that works with decision-makers across the food system to reduce U.S. food waste. ReFED promotes individual and collective solutions by convening, connecting and advising food system leaders to take actions that spur economic growth, increase food security and protect the environment. For more information, visit refed.com.

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