It’s Fresh! has won a slice of a €5m ($6.5m) investment to advance its technology which absorbs and locks ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone to slow the ripening and decay of fresh fruit and vegetables.
The money, from Anterra Capital, was given to Food Freshness Technology Holdings (FFT), which looks after It’s Fresh! and Natratec.
Anterra was created this month following a spin-off of Rabobank’s venture capital investment team, Rabo Ventures and Moonray Investors, the investment arm of FIL, the parent company of Fidelity Worldwide Investment.
'Huge vote of confidence'
Simon Lee, chief marketing officer UK, It’s Fresh!, told FoodProductionDaily the money will be used to broaden the application across more produce, scale up its resource requirements and to partner with more R&D organisations to develop ways to improve food quality.
“We are delighted at the huge vote of confidence this investment represents. It recognizes our vision of developing advanced, patented technologies, that can change the game in food freshness and waste by using materials science,” said Lee.
“It also recognizes the proven ability of our team not only to develop great ideas that can make a difference, but to commercialise them on a global scale.”
Lee added its biggest challenge was tapping the huge potential and need for effective food waste reduction across supply chains.
Avoidable food waste
“Fresh produce waste makes up 29% of avoidable food waste in the home, according to WRAP. Fruit is the top-ranking food item (40%) wasted or reduced-to-clear between the wholesale depot and the retail check-out, according to Incpen,” he said.
“And when you have a retailer like Tesco owning up to 28,500 tonnes of food waste in stores and DCs during the first part of this year, you know there is an urgent need for new and much more effective ways to tackle the problem.”
It's Fresh expansion
Over the next six months, It’s Fresh! will expand its technology to more retailers and across global supply chains in a wider range of countries.
“We are delighted Anterra Capital has chosen to invest in us. It’sFresh! technology has tremendous opportunities to reduce waste, improve food security and sustainability and provide consumers with fresher fruit in both the developed and developing worlds,” said Peter Sugarman, chairman, FFT.
“If all UK supermarkets used It’s Fresh! technology, we calculate they could avoid wasting over 13,500,000 packs of tomatoes and almost 19,500,000 punnets of strawberries every year.
“In each case that’s a saving of almost 7,000 metric tonnes, an equivalent mass to the Eiffel Tower—and in only two of the many fresh produce categories, in one country.”
FFT is Anterra’s debut investment. The growth capital fund is looking to put money into companies that will make the food and agriculture supply chain safer, more efficient and sustainable.
Lizette Sint, managing director, Rabo Private Equity Fund Investments, said the global food system needs to be transformed to secure the long-term food supply.
“We believe innovation is a key requirement to make this transformation happen. We look forward to working with Moonray and Anterra as we build on the team’s investment strategy of driving that change,” she said.