Rabobank's FoodBytes! winners offer solutions for food waste, climate change and improved health

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: FoodBytes!
Source: FoodBytes!

Related tags FoodBytes! Rabobank Food waste Malnutrition Climate change

In a year when food waste, climate change, social inequity and health & wellness have dominated headlines, it is fitting that the winners of Rabobank’s virtual FoodBytes! 2020 Pitch competition offer solutions to address these challenges and help move the food and agricultural industries towards a more efficient and equitable future.

Through the recently redesigned FoodBytes! Pitch startup discovery program​, which sought out the most promising innovations and entrepreneurs in consumer food & beverage (CPG), Food Tech and Agtech in 2020, Rabobank on Dec. 2 awarded $10,000 plus consulting services from FoodBytes! Pitch members to Agricycle for its approach to food loss mitigation, Envara Health for its innovation in clinical nutrition and SWAN Systems for its precision irrigation and fertilizer platform to improve water and resource management.

The winners were selected from a field of 15 finalists​, each of which pitched for three minutes virtually to a panel of judges, who then grilled them about their business models, go-to-market strategies, competitive edge and more.

Agricycle reduces food waste, empowers farmers

The judges were impressed by Agricycle Global’s ​approach to reducing food waste and empowering smallholder farmers who live in extreme rural poverty by offering simple, scalable technology, such as solar dehydrators, to preserve food that can then be sold as a value-added product on the global market.

Agricycle’s brand Jali Fruit Co. serves as proof-of-concept validation by offering upcycled wild-harvested tropical sun-dried jackfruit and other fruit that can be traced from tree to shelf.

While the company plays in the B2C space, CEO and founder Josh Shefner, told judges that he sees significant potential as a B2B ingredient supplier as well as a technology provider for other CPG manufacturers.

Envara: Leading the next stage in plant-based fats

On a mission to lead the next stage in plant-based fats that are healthier for people and the planet, Evara caught the judges’ attention with its neutral tasting, powdered blend of essential fatty acids and choline to improve nutrient absorption.

According to CEO Jim O’Connell, Envara’s Encala​ was created to help with malabsorption in patients with chronic malnutrition but it could play to a wider audience as a healthier replacement for MCT oils and fats, which currently come predominately from palm and coconut oil, which are not consistently farmed sustainably. Because it is not a saturated fat, it also offers a healthier option for those with cardiovascular concerns and does not impair vitamin absorption like MCT.

With significant clinical research and IP protection, O’Connell told judges that Envara can stay ahead of competitors, which would need to overcome significant barriers to entry.

SWAN Systems improves water, fertilizer efficiency

As droughts and water shortages intensify, SWAN Systems​ offers a solution with its precision irrigation and fertilizer platform that helps farmers reduce the use of water and inputs by using historic, current and predictive technology to find the best application time.

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