Final week, I unpacked three hype-worthy developments shaping our meals techniques. Now I wish to shine a lightweight on three behind-the-scenes forces that aren’t producing headlines however must be. Let’s drive straight in.

1. Our two-tier meals system

The story: On-line marketplaces that join shoppers with small-scale producers have boomed through the pandemic. Membership at Crowd Cow, a market for craft meat and seafood, doubled in April alone. Thrive Market — tagline “wholesome dwelling made simple” — is closing in on 1 million members following a 50 p.c bounce this yr.

The backstory: That is excellent news from a sustainability perspective, as a result of each firms present further gross sales channels for producers that observe natural and regenerative agriculture. They’re additionally utilizing zero-waste commitments and new packaging know-how to aggressively deal with the supply sector’s waste issues.

These achievements make me hope these firms prosper, however I’m unnerved on the fragmentation of meals retail they symbolize. We’re seeing a surge in new gross sales channels that permit comparatively rich shoppers to make wholesome and sustainable selections, however nothing like the identical momentum elsewhere available in the market. Comfort and greenback retailers stay the one meals retailers in lots of low-income neighborhoods. 

It is a (sadly acquainted) failure of social justice. It’s additionally an issue for sustainability. We are able to’t create the meals system we’d like — one which’s low-carbon and biodiversity-enhancing — if just one tier of that system delivers these advantages. 

2. Ghost kitchens within the car parking zone

The story: Amazon disrupted retail by making a market for all sellers. Now one thing comparable is going on within the restaurant trade, the place an organization named REEF is establishing and working kitchens in parking heaps, which eating places use to satisfy take-out orders. The restaurant specifies the recipe, REEF creates the dishes, and a supply service (say DoorDash or Uber Eats) will get the meal to your maw.

The backstory: This development will convey adjustments each good and unhealthy to the eating sector. I wish to make the case that this consolidation of takeout infrastructure can also be probably a giant deal for sustainability. 

U.S. eating places throw away greater than 10 billion of tons of meals yearly, one motive why 6 p.c of world greenhouse fuel emissions come from meals waste. One answer is to deploy a meals waste monitoring know-how, resembling Leanpath. That may be a problem for small eating places, nevertheless it makes extra sense for a centralized operation resembling REEF, which simply raised $700 million.

REEF’s hyper-local method additionally lends itself to cargo bike deliveries. Though the corporate declined a request to debate its broader sustainability technique, it’s experimenting with bikes: In Could, it introduced a pilot with supply agency DHL that includes 4 electrical bikes within the firm’s hometown of Miami.

three. A speedy path to the correct recipe

The story: Kapor Capital and the Emerson Collective are among the many funders behind Planet FWD, maker of Moonshot, a brand new climate-friendly snack model.

The backstory: Why have a bunch of well-known Silicon Valley traders backed an organization that sells crackers? Effectively, Moonshot is an actual product, however Planet FWD’s raison d’être is definitely the software program the corporate used to supply components for its snacks. The software permits meals manufacturers to simply establish components that meet key sustainability metrics, together with low emissions. Rivals on this house embrace Latis and Journey Meals. 

This type of digital infrastructure is invisible to anybody exterior of the meals enterprise, however till lately it’s been a lacking piece of the sustainability jigsaw. Massive retailers and types can stress suppliers to debate environmental metrics, however smaller firms and startups don’t have the leverage. Consequently, evaluating the sustainability bona fides of various components turns into very time-consuming. By fixing this drawback, companies resembling Planet FWD will act as an accelerant, permitting manufacturers with concepts for brand spanking new sustainable meals to get to market a lot faster. 

This text was tailored from the GreenBiz Meals Weekly publication. Enroll right here to obtain your personal free subscription.

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