One of the great paradoxes of modern America is that a vast amount of food is wasted while millions of people don’t have enough access to quality food.
But Colorado Springs startup FoodMaven thinks it has a solution to the $161 billion-a-year problem: an online marketplace.
Much of the food wasted in America is still perfectly edible. But if a grocery chain orders, say, potatoes of a certain size and color but ends up getting the wrong ones, odds are that food will end up getting tossed. Another big issue is the “beauty” of an item: If a banana has a bruise, customers won’t buy it and it gets thrown out. And grocers and retailers don’t want to risk losing out an any sale lest a customer defect to a rival, so they over-order.
“In this quest to not lose a customer, everybody is committing to having everything all the time,” Patrick Bultema, FoodMaven co-founder and CEO, told Fortune‘s Brainstorm Reinvent conference in Chicago on Monday.
FoodMaven, launched in 2015, operates a website that matches sellers and buyers of salvageable food. The site breaks down products by category and prioritizes them using “best by” dates.
The company’s novel idea has made waves in the industry and attracted the attention of big names, including Walter Robb, the former co-CEO of Whole Foods who is a FoodMaven director and investor, and members of Walmart’s Walton founding family, some of whom are also investors.
The company so far only operates in Colorado Springs, but it told that city’s main newspaper earlier this year it would accelerate its expansion over the next two years with the goal of achieving a revenue of $1 billion within half a decade.