Food waste agtech firms raise combined $17m in funding

Hazel Technologies and Cambridge Crops have pioneered methods for extending the shelf life of fruit and veg.

Two US-based agtech firms that have pioneered different methods for preserving the shelf life of fresh produce products have raised a combined $17 million in funding.

Chicago-based Hazel Technologies raised $13 million in a Series B funding led by “advanced materials” venture capital investor Pangaea Ventures and sustainable foods investor S2G Ventures.

Massachusetts-based Cambridge Crops raised $4 million in a seed funding round led by venture capital firm The Engine.

Hazel Technologies’ has developed sachet packets that condition the storage atmosphere of fresh products to reduce their respiration rate and increase resistance to ethylene.

The sachets are placed inside boxes containing fruit and vegetables such as mangos, avocados and okras at the time of harvest.

“Hazel has a deep understanding of their customers that we rarely see in a start-up company,” said Pangaea Ventures general partner Keith Gillard.

“Their drop-in solution for a broad set of supply chain applications will allow Hazel to be a true change maker in food waste reduction across the supply chain.”

Cambridge Crops’ food preservation technology is based on a protein extracted from silk, using “a water-based process,” the firm said. The protein solution is applied to the surface of fresh food items and forms a protective layer, which the company says prevents oxidation, improves water prevention and slows microbial growth.

“The technology we’ve developed has far-reaching impact, from minimizing our reliance on single-use plastics to expanding global access to safe and nutritious foods,” said Cambridge Crops CEO Adam Behrens.

Both sets of funding come shortly after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest report, Climate Change and Land, which highlighted a global reduction in food waste as an important step towards reducing the agricultural industry’s carbon footprint.

The study estimated that emissions from the industry – if pre- and post-production activities are included – could account for between “21-37 percent of total net [global] emissions.”