Highlights from ReFED’s 2019 Food Waste Summit

More than 400 stakeholders who have a shared interest in sustainable food systems attended the event in San Francisco.

Stuart Buckner, Ph.D., President

November 14, 2019

4 Min Read
Highlights from ReFED’s 2019 Food Waste Summit
ReFED Twitter

The 2019 Food Waste Summit, hosted by Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED), brought together leaders and decision makers from across sectors of the industry to share strategies for achieving the national goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030 and to discuss opportunities to generate profits, increase food security, spur economic growth and protect the environment.

More than 400 stakeholders who have a shared interest in sustainable food systems, including food businesses, investors, foundations, national nonprofits, governments, innovators and academics, attended the event in San Francisco. The summit was hosted in partnership with The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation and was supported by other leading food waste champions, including General Mills and Morton Salt.

The three-day summit opened on October 28 with an Innovator Excellence Day that offered attendees the opportunity to meet with some of the fastest-growing companies in the food waste industry and to learn more about new solutions for fighting food waste, pilot projects and funding opportunities. Featured sessions included the 10 impact-driven innovators in ReFED's Nonprofit Food Recovery Accelerator as well as an interactive $50,000 pitch competition for the seven innovators selected to participate in The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation’s Innovation Fund. Mobius received $35,000 in funding for winning first place and the People’s Choice Award. Mobius converts industrial organic waste streams from food, forestry and agriculture into renewable chemicals and materials. Winnow, which was awarded $15,000 for winning second place, uses an artificial intelligence-enabled technology platform to track food waste in commercial kitchens, allowing chefs to pinpoint waste and cut costs.

"Kroger's bold social impact plan sets out to end hunger in our communities and eliminate waste across our company by 2025,” says Jessica Adelman, president of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation. “To achieve this goal, we’ve supported the development of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, a public charity established to work with social enterprises, corporations and nonprofits that are committed to creating communities free of hunger and waste." 

Nicola Dixon, executive director of the General Mills Foundation, explains that “when less food is wasted, everybody wins. That’s why General Mills is focused on enabling the systematic recovery and redistribution of good surplus food around the globe, and why we work to prevent food from being wasted in the first place.” 

At the summit, Chris Cochran, executive director of ReFED, announced that Insights Engine will launch in 2020. The Insights Engine will be a digital-first, continuously updated platform of online tools to house the next generation of data, insights and guidance on food waste. 

The Wonderful Company announced its $1 million Pom Challenge Open Call. It seeks innovative solutions for creating value from pomegranate husks that are generated during juicing.

In addition, Albertsons Companies' West Coast divisions, which include stores such as Albertsons, Safeway, Vons and Pavilions, as well as The Kroger Co. and New Seasons Market announced that they've joined the Pacific Coast Collaborative's partnership to reduce food waste by 2030. 

Learn more about progress and solutions to food waste prevention and reduction, including General Mills' Recovery Champions Program, Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Initiative, ReFED’s Nonprofit Food Recovery Accelerator and its work with Ohio State University to standardize date labeling as recommended by the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, during the fifth annual Food Recovery Forum at WasteExpo, May 4 through 7, 2020.

A small sampling of program highlights at WasteExpo include keynote presentations by General Mills, The Kroger Co. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, focused on progress on food waste prevention, reduction and recovery as well as dedicated sessions highlighting:

  • Food Recovery Best Practices with Winners of the General Mills Food Recovery Champions Program, which awarded $1 million in grants to expand surplus food recovery in the U.S. and Canada for greater social and environmental impact. Hear this panel of food recovery innovators from across the U.S. who will share details about their programs and how they are leveraging their grants from General Mills to achieve greater levels of food recovery.

  • Award Winners of Kroger Foundation’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Initiative, which has committed up to $1 million in grants to engage with innovators to develop ideas and scalable solutions to prevent food waste and end hunger in the U.S. Join Sunny Reelhorn Parr, foundation leader, and award winners who will discuss their projects and how they will assist in the goal to prevent food waste and end hunger in the U.S.

  • Designing Solutions to Ensure Food Security – ReFED’s Nonprofit Food Recovery Accelerator, which has awarded grants to innovators who advance ideas and inspire actions that lead to a doubling of healthy food available to the 40 million Americans facing food insecurity. Join Alexandria Coari, capital and innovation director at ReFED, and members of the first accelerator cohort to discuss how earned revenue models and technology solutions can be scaled to drive more impact.

Dr. Stuart Buckner is the president of Buckner Environmental Associates, conference chair and program director for The Food Recovery Forum & Organics Recycling Conference at WasteExpo and organics editor for Waste360.

About the Author(s)

Stuart Buckner, Ph.D.

President, Buckner Environmental Associates LLC

Stuart Buckner, Ph.D., is president of Buckner Environmental Associates LLC, a consulting firm specializing in organics management.

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