Innovation That Matters

| Photo source The Ugly Company

Upcycling food waste into dried fruit snacks

Food & Drink

A startup is turning fresh produce that would otherwise be wasted into healthy snacks

Spotted: Faced with the knowledge that California throws away more peaches than the entire state of Georgia produces in a year, The Ugly Company founder Ben Moore wanted to help put a stop to such waste. Rather than discarding fruits that are too misshapen to be sold to supermarkets, The Ugly Company upcycles them into healthy dried fruit snacks.  

Run by a team with close ties to the farming industry, the startup sources most of its product locally from the San Joaquin Valley in California. Cherries, peaches, apricots, kiwis, and nectarines are dried and packaged for sale in individual snack packs. It takes eight pounds of fresh fruit to create one pound of dried fruit, so each pack of Ugly fruit represents two and a half pounds of fruit rescued from waste.  

As well as preventing food waste, the company adds value to the local farming economy. Farmers no longer have to pay for the collection and dumping of their unused fruit. Instead, The Ugly Company pays growers for crops that are good to eat but deemed ‘too ugly’ for general wholesale, whether that be because they are too small, or have an odd colour or shape. 

Buyers can find the fruit in several grocery chains, including Krogers’s, Hy-Vee, and Whole Foods, as well as online and via subscription boxes. Thanks to a recent Series A funding round that raised $9 million (about €8.4 million), the company plans to expand its processing capacity and keep up with growing national demand.  

Other ways in which Springwise has spotted innovations reducing food waste include turning broccoli stems into alternative proteins, and using AI-powered scanners to track the freshness of produce.

Written By: Keely Khoury



Download PDF