“Consumers are the largest culprit of food waste. However, between farms versus brokers, most of it happens at the farm level,” CEO and founder of Full Harvest, Christine Moseley, told FoodNavigator-USA. She cited data from the ReFed food waste report, which revealed that $218bn annually is “spent on growing, processing, transporting, and disposing food that is never eaten.
“Up to 20-25% of all produce does not even leave the farm because it is not perfectly shaped for grocery stores,” she added. “There was previously no incentive to sell it as there was no easy-to-use marketplace to quickly offload imperfectly shaped product.”
The ‘first institutional B2B online marketplace’
Companies and organizations have sprung up to spread awareness and lobby for more use of ‘ugly fruits and vegetables,’ or to use them as a core component of their business model, such as the social media-star EndFoodWaste.org (and its viral hip-hop carrot), catering company Culinary Misfits, or Diefenbach’s new brand Uglies, which uses rejected potatoes to make chips.
There’s also Imperfect Produce, which procures, boxes, and ships cosmetically rejected produce for $11 - $13 for a small box, or $15 - $17 for organic, though it’s not available nationally yet.
These efforts are relatively small, direct-to-consumer, and hyperlocal. Thus the idea of Full Harvest as a marketplace was born. “We are the first institutional B2B online marketplace for any food & beverage company to source up to 100% of its produce needs as surplus and imperfect produce at discounted prices at the simple touch of a few buttons,” Moseley said.
“While some processors/CPG companies may have used some imperfect foods, not all used 100% imperfect produce, not all produce items had a #2 market, and no one offered technology to help source it,” she added.
A partner for mission-driven, sustainability-oriented clients
For now, the company is working with farms in California, Washington, and Mexico for its fruits and vegetables, with more farms in South and Central America in the near future. As for the target audience: “We serve any food and beverage company that currently buys pallet quantities of produce, IQF, puree or concentrate and does not need worry about what the produce looks like for their products,” said Moseley.
Its current buyers include juice, smoothie, baby food, dog food, frozen and food service companies, among others, and Moseley is optimistic that more clients will start knocking. “We have large interest from manufacturers and food service companies due to the value that we help save on input costs, provide a fast, easy-to-use produce purchasing website, and support their sustainability efforts.”
Seed round financing was led by Wireframe Ventures, and other investors in the company included BBG Ventures, Early Impact Ventures, Impact Engine, and Radicle, among others.
As for the main business model, said Moseley: “We sell our produce at a discount, and customers save anywhere from 10-40% on their produce purchases, depending on the customer and the item."
If the marketplace, and relatively sparse competitive arena, grows, it will be interesting to see how ‘ugly produce’ can compete with traditional suppliers.