This blog is the fourth in a series titled ‘The Future of Food Systems’, written by MBA candidate Melissa Benn. It explores the ways our food systems can and should pivot in a world that is being increasingly disrupted by climate change.
Last month, I competed in the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) competition, where teams source, undertake due diligence, and present early-stage start-ups to an investment committee. I worked with an incredible group of teammates turned friends (shout-out to Alison Filler, Carolina Douek, Caroline Caldeira & Davinia Cogan) which made the whole process educational, exciting and enjoyable.
Our goal for MIINT was clear: we wanted to find an early-stage start-up working to disrupt food systems in Brazil. After a few (dozen) conversations with VCs and start-ups working in Brazil and the greater region, we connected with B4Waste.
B4Waste is led by Brazilian Co-CEOs and founders Luciano Kleiman and Daniel Neuman, who, after decades working in grocery chains and various food industries, set out on their own to address one of the most intractable problems of our time: food waste.
Food waste is an:
It's a particular problem in Brazil, the world’s fourth largest food producer, where 9 million tons of food go to waste each year, and equitable access remains a key issue (70% of people with credit card debt in 2021 used it for food).
After years in grocery chains, Kleiman and Neuman discovered food waste inherent in grocery stores and food retailers is a massive, unrealised opportunity masquerading as a “business-as-usual” practice. B4Waste is a digital marketplace that connects people with companies offering products close to expiration at (at least) 50% discounts.
And it’s simple to use:
Upload. Retailer identifies products about to expire and uploads items to platform for sale.
Order. Customer visits the app and selects items for purchase.
Eat. Products are delivered through partners or picked up in stores.
Save. Customers receive (at least) 50% discounts. Retailer makes added profit and avoids destruction costs.
One exciting thing we got to do while working with B4Waste was to create a quantitative impact analysis and model. By analyzing over 180,000 lines of data, we determined that in less than one year of operations, they have redirected an estimated 142 tons of food from landfill, which results in 12 tons of methane not released into the atmosphere, and $193,000 saved by customers.
A vision for the future
B4Waste is a vision for the future in multiple ways:
They’ve identified a “business as usual” practice that is ripe for disruption. What other wasteful practices do we think are essential externalities, that we should be taking a deeper look at? For example, in the UK, why are all pieces of produce wrapped in single use plastics? Are there technologies we could leverage to avoid thousands of tons of food being wasted during e. coli contamination scares (hint: blockchain)?
B4Waste is a Brazilian founded, owned, and operated start-up looking for catalytic capital to make profit and an impact. What kind of future could we create if VCs focused their time on funding brilliant entrepreneurs in Global South countries that develop specific innovative solutions to their own specific problems, instead of funding companies in the US or Europe that promise silver bullets for wide-ranging problems?
B4Waste is open to investment and conversation with potential partners interested in their mission. If you’d like to be connected with B4Waste, or ask how many times our computers crashed while analyzing 180,000 lines of data, please shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to Luciano Kleiman, Daniel Neuman, and Hyung Jum Kim of B4Waste for their generous time commitment during the MIINT competition, and fellow teammates Alison Filler, Carolina Douek, Caroline Caldeira & Davinia Cogan for their incredible work and effort which formed the content of this blog.