Imperfect, a US company focused on fighting food waste by finding homes for cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables, has secured investment from NBA star Kevin Durant.
The basketball player’s Thirty Five Ventures has invested in the firm, which now plans to expand on the US East Coast.
With the opening of a new distribution centre in the Baltimore area, Imperfect said it will have the scale to impact food recovery coast to coast.
Founded in 2015, Imperfect sources produce with aesthetic defects from farmers that would have disposed of the goods due to grocery stores’ cosmetic standards.
The firm, which operates in 11 US cities, enables customers to select the box size, type and frequency of deliveries, which consist of fruits and vegetables that would have otherwise gone to waste. Produce comes directly from farms and is said to be offered as a more cost-effective alternative to traditional grocery stores.
Ben Simon, Imperfect co-founder and CEO, said: “We’re incredibly honoured to welcome one of the most prominent figures in sports and entrepreneurship as we begin our nationwide expansion.
“With this new support, we will continue to reduce food waste nationwide while giving more people access to affordable, fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables.”
In addition to expansion in the Baltimore area, Imperfect is seeking to expand to Washington D.C. proper in early 2019, followed by all major metropolitan areas on the East Coast by the end of 2020.
The company is now looking to grow its product portfolio with other grocery items headed for the waste system, including short-coded items, products made with imperfect produce – such as baked goods, pickles, jams, and fruit leather – and products with packaging and labelling errors.
Research by the National Resource Defense Council published last year revealed that 20 billion pounds of produce is lost on US farms each year. Imperfect said these are fruits and vegetables with small quirks in appearance that consumers rarely notice and do not impact flavour or nutrition.
Meanwhile, a study from analytics provider Blue Yonder found that 73% of shoppers in the UK, US, France and Germany are open to buying fresh produce that has natural flaws, but 90% said that they expected retailers to charge less than they would for regular fruit.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019