Winnow Raises US$7.4M Round to Scale Up its Fight of Commercial Food Waste
October 23, 2017
UK-based Winnow Solutions, a tech developer of smart solutions that help commercial kitchens reduce food waste, announced it has secured its latest US$7.4 million growth capital round led by Circularity Capital, Mustard Seed, and D-Ax.
This round follows upon an oversubscribed US$3.3 million Series A for the company led by Mustard Seed and D’Ax.
Launched in May 2013, Winnow was a winner at the BusinessGreen Technology Awards last year, and is the developer of the Winnow Waste Monitor – a large electronic scale that weighs the produce being wasted in commercial and hospitality kitchens, and reports back though a tablet on what is being wasted, why, and what it is costing the operation – information that most commercial operations do not track. Through the use of the Winnow Waste Monitor, the company states that kitchens can reduce their food purchasing by up to 8 percent and reduce food waste by 50 percent in the first year of operation.
In only these few short years, Winnow has expanded its operation to 600 kitchens across 29 countries, and includes customers such as IKEA, Compass Group, Accor Hotels, and Carnival Cruises, and states that it plans to use this latest funding to support growth with its existing customers, expand their customer base, and to advance the development of their technology.
“This fundraising announcement is a key milestone in our journey and validation that our technology is driving real value for our clients,” said Marc Zornes, co-founder and CEO of Winnow.
Food loss throughout the supply chain in the EU is costing 60 billion euro per year, according to Paul Bosch, food and agri analyst at Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Research.
“European companies could save 5 billion euros a year by introducing innovations in the field of harvesting and post-harvest storage. They also stand to save another 2.5 billion euros through food packaging innovations and 2.5 billion more through monitoring the freshness of products more effectively,” said Bosch.
While it’s true that food waste presents an enormous and complex social and economic scenario, there has been a relatively recent shift in the collective view of the problem. Investors, particularly agtech and social impact investors have realized the potential for not only social benefit, but the $2 billion market opportunity that exists in developing solutions to this challenge.
Indeed, research conducted by Champions 12.3, a coalition of executives, government leaders, international organizations, institutions, and members of civil society found that for every dollar invested to reduce agricultural food loss and waste, $14 are saved in operating costs.
Armed with a business case for action, agtech investors, innovators, and entrepreneurs are taking the lead, collaborating to fund and develop groundbreaking solutions to the agricultural and food waste challenge.
“This is a great fit with our focus on the circular economy as a lens to invest and create value,” said David Mowat, co-founder of Circularity Capital. “Globally we throw away an estimated $1tr worth of food each year. Just focusing on hospitality, that’s a $100bn market opportunity.”
“The hospitality sector is quickly waking up to the opportunity that food waste presents,” added Zornes. “We are encouraged by some of our biggest clients now having the confidence to make public commitments to reduce food waste, and we expect the rest of the industry to follow suit doing the right thing for their businesses and for the planet.”
When measured on an environmental benefit scale, Winnow’s technology is estimated to be saving its clients 4,300 tons of food waste per year – the equivalent of 10 million meals, or one meal every three seconds.
“We believe in backing businesses with purpose at Mustard Seed,” said Henry Wigan, co-founder of the impact investor, Mustard Seed. “As an early stage investor, we’ve been with Winnow since their seed round and are encouraged by the traction they’ve built with several market leaders. We expect to see the wider hospitality industry to accelerate the adoption of digital tools to measure and reduce food waste given the significant benefits others are already seeing, both in terms of sustainability and profitability.”
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