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Finance & Innovation

Start-ups are kicking food waste to the curb in unexpected ways

Flickr: US Department of Agriculture

Nutrition Month has demonstrated the severity of food waste around the world (check out this video for some shocking statistics). But don’t give up hope- entrepreneurs are creating innovative solutions that save precious sustenance from ending up in the trash bin. Here is a closer look at two start-ups that are the heroes of produce destined for the dump: Spoiler Alert and Kromkommer.


Think about how many positive programs could be initiated with an extra $165 billion USD. Now think about how the United States wastes that much money each year on uneaten food.

Emily Malina and Ricky Ashenfelter, two MIT business students, are hoping to change that statistic with a simple click of a button.

Their new app, cleverly named Spoiler Alert, connects businesses with local organizations willing to purchase leftover food or accept donations through a virtual marketplace. After just one year of piloting the app, Spoiler Alert saved over 10,000 pounds of food from being thrown away.

Food retailers benefit from reduced trash hauling fees, and receiving organizations are able to feed the hungry and make compostable fertilizers with groceries saved from the landfill. “We offer a secondary market for discounted food sales, which enables new revenue streams,” Malina said.

The creators intend to launch Spoiler Alert across the US in order to counter the 20 pounds of food wasted per American each year. The app may expand internationally in the future, but have no fear, there are other food heros currently reducing waste across the globe.


While Spoiler Alert is focusing on rotting food, another company is focusing on fruits and vegetables that are, well, just plain ugly.

Start-ups are kicking food waste to the curb- Flickr- Pictoscribe- Body 1.jpgThis carrot may be twisted, but it's still nutritious and delicious.
Image: Flickr- Pictoscribe

Chantal Engelen, Jente de Vries, and Lisanne von Zwol are three Dutch women committed to showing the world the value of inner beauty when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Their company, Kromkommer (meaning “crooked cucumber”), is dedicated to repurposing visually imperfect fruits and vegetables.

Large grocery chains often reject up to 40% of a grower’s harvest due to irregularities in shape, size, and coloring. Consumers also tend to reject “wonky” fruits and vegetables that make it to stores, causing prime produce to linger unsold. Kromkommer purchases these perfectly tasty vegetables and uses them in a line of tomato, beet, and carrot soups. “We hope to make a change in society and, in a few years, have these vegetables accepted as normal,” de Vries said.

The company will produce 100,000 units of soup throughout 2015, and continues to campaign on behalf of ugly produce throughout the Netherlands. At one recent event, over 6,300 kilograms of crooked fruits and vegetables won over the hearts and stomachs of shoppers because of Kromkommer.

“‘Funny looking’ vegetables are in fact special, because nature doesn’t produce boring uniformity,” said Engelen.


Innovative companies such as Spoiler Alert and Kromkommer illustrate that there is no wrong way to fight food waste. The world can combat extreme poverty with technology or a warm bowl of soup, as long as perfectly edible products are re-integrated into the food chain.

To promote better food practices around the world, sign the petition in TAKE ACTION NOW to increase global food security.