While the food industry struggles to meet increasing global production demands, more food reaches U.S. landfills and incinerators than any other waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In an effort to help solve this problem, Full Harvest, a marketplace for excess produce that would otherwise go to waste, announced it has closed an $8.5 million Series A round of financing led by Spark Capital.
New investors Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, Rent the Runway Founder Jenny Fleiss, Jon Scherr (CircleUp) and Adam Zeplain of Mark.vc, as well as previous investors, including Seed lead Wireframe Ventures, also joined the round.
“An astounding amount of produce is wasted today in the United States, but the intuitive and beautifully designed Full Harvest online marketplace is starting to change this dynamic and is already delivering dramatic business benefits for its customers,” said John Melas-Kyriazi, Spark Capital investor, in a statement. “By aggregating excess produce supply at scale and providing a superior user experience to growers and food buyers via software, Full Harvest is shifting the way the industry thinks about how produce is bought and sold.”
The EPA also noted that in addition to the food industry’s struggle to meet growing global production demands, 20 billion pounds of produce goes to waste each year due to surplus or cosmetic reasons. According to the agency, reducing food waste is considered one of the top three ways to reverse climate change.
“Full Harvest has helped us reduce our costs, shore up our supply and enhance the overall performance of our produce purchasing group,” noted Brett Sack of Wildbrine. “Given our commitment to providing healthy, organic options to consumers and using every single edible part of our vegetables, we love working with Full Harvest, which is just as committed to a sustainable food supply chain as we are.”
Full Harvest said it will use the Series A investment to achieve its mission of eradicating food waste at the farm level by further scaling its technology platform, significantly expanding its U.S. footprint and tripling the size of its technology, sales and operations teams.
"We have a busy manufacturing operation and work with a lot of vendors. Full Harvest really stands out from the rest as an incredibly reliable vendor—they have proactively worked with us to cut costs on produce by sourcing directly from farms,” said Daina Trout, Health-Ade CEO, in a statement. “They allow us to have a higher quality product at a lower cost and share our passion of the real food movement and reducing food waste."
In addition, Full Harvest noted it has already helped large farms sell and deliver nearly 7 million pounds of produce. That 7 million pounds no longer bound for landfills not only drives revenue for farmers and savings for food and beverage companies but also equals the conservation of enough drinking water for 7 million people for an entire year and the prevention of CO2 emissions, the company said.
Working with a wide range of major national food and beverage companies, Full Harvest noted it has demonstrated significant food waste reductions. According to the company, early successes include increasing profit for a large U.S. farm by 12 percent per acre, reducing the time it took a national consumer packaged goods (CPG) company to procure produce by 96 percent and saving CPG companies an average of 15 percent on produce costs. By driving more sustainable food production and cost-effective organics, Full Harvest also stressed that it aims to make healthy food and beverage options more affordable for consumers.
“We need to move beyond the archaic nature of buying and selling produce to get the most from each harvest and make sure no food goes to waste. Our marketplace will drive a waste-free future on produce farms that benefits growers, food and beverage companies and consumers,” said Christine Moseley, founder and CEO of Full Harvest, in a statement. “Using this investment to expand nationally and roll out new platform capabilities and produce offerings, Full Harvest will get more produce directly from farms to food and beverage producers—faster, fresher, more affordably and with advanced traceability.”
To support its plans to rapidly scale nationally, Spark’s Melas-Kyriazi and Cultivian’s Phillips will both join the Full Harvest board of directors.