FoodMaven CEO: Yes, You Can Eliminate Food Waste and Still Make a Profit

September 5, 2018, 4:14 PM UTC

The United States loses an estimated $300 billion in revenue each year from food waste. The culprit? Everything from overstocked shelves at the grocery store to leftover yield on the farm, according to Patrick Bultema, CEO of FoodMaven—a company that distributes oversupplied food to commercial kitchens at about half price.

“Forty percent of everything that farmers in the U.S. create is thrown away, and one-third of what’s going into landfills is food waste,” says Bultema, who tells Fortune that creating a market for the benefit of producers enables FoodMaven to donate food to the under-served population.

Consider it a big step toward making a positive impact on the environment, Bultema says—and it’s driven by profit. “Pricing that maximizes profitability ensures a significant percentage gets donated,” he says.

Staying focused on profit with positive social impact isn’t easy. Bultema suggests surrounding yourself with investors and a board of directors that have core social values and a focus on the bottom line.

“We had a moral imperative from day one, and it’s personal—I grew up on a farm, my brother is one of the 68% of farmers on the verge of bankruptcy, and all of my senior leadership team is committed to the same values,” says Bultema, adding that balancing profit with social good provides hope for the future.

“I’m more hopeful than I’ve ever been for capitalism,” Bultema says. “Our lead investor is the Walton family [of Walmart fame], and they are very committed to our mission. That’s incredibly encouraging.”

Watch the video above for more from Fortune’s interview with Bultema.

Members Only” is a video series showcasing executives in Fortune’s membership communities. For more information on how to become a member, visit our pages for Brainstorm Tech, the CEO Initiative, or Most Powerful Women.