Stanford GSB Impact Fund Backs Matriark Foods
The significant climate impact of food waste
According to Project Drawdown, addressing food waste is the most impactful climate solution ranked out of 100+ that has the potential to reduce 90 gigatons of CO2 over the next 30 years. Roughly a third of the world’s food is never eaten, which means the land, the labor, and the natural resources used to grow that food are also wasted. The wasted food that ends up in landfills dramatically increases global warming. Every 100 lbs of food waste in landfills releases 8.3 lbs of methane, a GHG 86X more potent than CO2.
A gap in the market: fresh-cut facilities and food service
While there are many large VC-backed players in the food waste space, many are focused on going direct to consumer and reducing waste on the farm and grocery retailers. Out of the 400 upcycled products listed on the Upcycled Food Association’s website, only one is targeting food service. Well-known startups in the space such as Imperfect Produce ($560M valuation) and Full Harvest ($28M valuation) are rescuing imperfect produce from farmers while Apeel ($2.5B valuation) and Afresh ($121M valuation) are helping grocery retailers reduce inventory churn.
At the GSB Impact Fund, our mission is to identify companies for their strong business fundamentals and compelling social and environmental impact. Through the lens of additionality, the food and agriculture deal team was seeking early-stage startups in underfunded areas that addressed important issues in the sector.
A supply chain innovator
We are excited to announce that we have invested in Matriark Foods, a supply chain innovator that upcycles vegetable remnants from fresh-cut facilities into nutritious products at an affordable price point for foodservice customers. Foodservice is a $72 billion dollar market serving institutions where more than 50% of all meals in the United States are consumed. Matriark Foods fills the gap in the upcycled food waste market from both a supply and demand perspective, developing highly differentiated products.
While upcycling products are not new, Matriark Food’s unique approach to the market and strong partnerships with their fresh-cut facilities and foodservice clients will help address the food waste challenge at scale. They recently secured a contract with Chartwells that is part of Compass Group, one of the largest contract foodservice companies in the world. A single pallet of Matriark product (vegetable broth) diverts ~3,900 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions by rescuing food remnants before they are tossed in the landfill.
The GSB Impact Fund joined a strong syndicate of investors including Social Venture Circle, Arabella’s Good Food Ventures, Kachua, and Belle Impact Fund. Matriark also won a place in the Kroger Zero Waste Zero Hunger Foundation Accelerator which came with $200K in grant funding plus the opportunity to win another $250K. Matriark Foods is also an alumnus of the Food System 6 Accelerator.
Matriark Foods was started by 2 impressive women. CFO, Joyce Huang, has 20 years of experience developing business strategies and pursuing revenue growth opportunities in the banking and food industries with experiences at Citigroup, The Food Network, and ABC Kitchen. She worked with Anna Hammond for 6 years at NYCHA (New York City Public Housing). The dearth of access to healthy food they encountered working in public housing and the excess produce that is wasted inspired them to create a company that can provide healthy food while mitigating the catastrophic environmental effects of food waste. Anna Hammond, the founder and CEO, is a force of nature with decades of experience focused on alleviating food insecurity. We are inspired by their mission and excited to see what we will achieve together.