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FOOD & BEVERAGES | Candy & snackfoods
agricycleglobal.com

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Founded Year

2017

Stage

Seed | Alive

Total Raised

$370K

Last Raised

$350K | 2 yrs ago

About Agricycle

Agricycle transforms food waste and agricultural byproducts across the world into all-natural and organic CPG brands sold in the United States.

Agricycle Headquarter Location

1007 North Cass Street #458

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53202,

United States

815-451-5195

Latest Agricycle News

Milwaukee Startup Helping Small African Farms Turn Waste into Livelihoods

Mar 3, 2021

Milwaukee Startup Helping Small African Farms Turn Waste into Livelihoods Image: Jali Fruit Co. Agricycle wants to address poverty and put a dent in global food waste. So far, it has created nearly 7,000 livelihoods in Africa and diverted 177 tons of food waste — and counting. Smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa account for up to 90 percent oflocal foodproduction .Yet these small operations can lose as much as 90 percent of their products,because local markets are flooded with the same crops that farmers can’t sellthrough regional or global markets. These smallholder farmers are among theworld’s poorestpeople ,and many arewomen . A Milwaukee-based startup called Agricycle targets these challenges with a vertically integrated supply chain thattransforms food waste from African smallholder farms into products. Farmers useAgricycle’s passive solar dehydrators to preserve their mangoes,pineapples and jackfruit — which the company buys and sells in theUnited States and Europe. Roughly a year after raising $1.4 million, Agricycle is firing on allcylinders. It won Rabobank’s 2020 FoodBytes! pitch competition in December, opening thedoor to new investment to be announced in April. A hiring spree will more thandouble its global headcount, and new products are in the works. Agricycle isalso applying its model to lionfish — an invasive species that threatenscoral reefs. And as Agricycle continues to grow its network of smallholderfarms, it plans to distribute 2,000 solar dehydrators by the end of 2022,compared to the nearly 300 in service today. “We are proving that you can source from people who have — for centuries, atthis point — been excluded from the global agricultural supply chain, out ofneglect and disparaging thoughts that [questioned] how could smallholders createquality, food-grade products,” Josh Shefner, 23, Agricycle’s co-founderand CEO, told Sustainable Brands™. “Nobody ever went that extra step[to ask], ‘What would they need do that?’” Hear 75 insights from 25 purpose-driven brand leaders ... Not sure where, or whether, to start on your company's social purpose? After learning from dozens who have done it, you'll understand how defining a clear social purpose can benefit organizations of all sizes and shapes, in any industry. Investors are attracted to Agricycle’s focus on upcycling and solving challengesat the “farmgate” — which refers to products purchased directly from a farm inthe B2B space — says Anne Greven, head of food and agriculture innovation atRabobank, which facilitates the Foodbytes! initiative. “The technology of dehydrating has been around forever,” she says. “This is notnew; but how they were deploying it, how they were supporting smallholder farms,how they work with farmers to reduce waste and create value at the field wasreally powerful.” Agricycle’s seeds were planted in a 2015 university engineering project aimed athelping Jamaican farmers turn dried mangoes into beer. They designed apassive solar dehydrator for the project, but the farmers said more support wasneeded. “They basically spelled out that it’s not enough just to provide a technologyand teach them how to use it,” Shefner said. “You have to figure out how to getthis out of the country; and somebody has to brand it, market it and sell it.” Shefner carried the project forward, eventually joined by Claire Friona, 21— Agricycle’s co-founder and portfolio manager. They spent the next few yearsiterating the model in Panama, Haiti and Uganda. In Kenya,Shefner met Agricycle co-founder Patrick Nderitu, 38, who was working withan NGO that helped mango farmers address food loss. Nderitu began developingAgricycle’s operations in East Africa in 2019. That included building a supplynetwork of smallholder farms, recruiting a team of food safety and financeexperts, and fine-tuning the design of the passive solar dehydrator — whichbecame mobile, stackable and collapsible. In the US, Shefner focused on raisingfunding, branding and marketing. Agricycle now operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Liberia; and it isdiscussing expanding to Latin America. Its global supply network includes44,000 members who can access training (food safety, financial literacy andagricultural practices), technology (dehydrators and SMS messaging tools) andbenefits (including health insurance). Members can buy the $350 dehydrators viamicroloans or layaway programs, and some are subsidized through countygovernments and the UN FAO. Image courtesy of Agricycle Nearly 1,100 network members, or 2.4 percent, are also producers (Agricyclewants to increase that proportion to 25 percent by the end of 2021, and by 50percent by the end of 2022). Some producers are smallholders, and others arewomen or youth who form microenterprises to buy and dehydrate fruit fromsmallholders for sale to Agricycle. Rural farmers in Kenya make an average of $2 daily, Nderitu says. 71 percent of the smallholder farmers Agricycle works with are women. “Whenever they dry a kilogram of mangoes, it increases their income by more thanseven times when they’re selling to us,” he says. The company claims it hascreated nearly 7,000 livelihoods based on producers with whom it has initiatedsupply contracts. Agricycle launched its first brand, Jali Fruit Co. , in April 2020. The line ofdried mangoes, pineapple and jackfruit proved the concept that sourcing from adistributed network of smallholder farms is more resilient than the largeplantation model. Jali Fruit products are sold in nearly 200 US stores — including Harmon’s, Bristol Farms and Market of Choice — and directly toconsumers via its website. Each bag of dried fruit is traceable with a QR codethat lets consumers learn about the farms the supplied the fruit. Agricycle’s supply chain has expanded to include other forms of agriculturalwaste. For example, Liberia alone generates 2.4 million pounds of waste coconutshells and 7.6 million pounds of waste palm kernel shells. A new product called Tropicoal Ignition upcycles these materials — along with cassava root — intocharcoal briquettes, avoiding the deforestation associated with standardcharcoal production. Agricycle planned to introduce Tropicoal Ignition in April2020, but the pandemic delayed its plans to summer 2021. Field Better is a new B2B line of more than 75 functional, upcycled andsometimes unusual ingredients — including soursop, pigeon peas, thorn melon andcascara. CPG manufacturers can use the upcycled flours, powders, extracts andpurees in their own products or via upcoming co-branded partnerships with otherupcycled food companies. In May 2020, Agricycle acquired Olacoral , a startup that created a network offisherman in Belize to harvest lionfish for sale as food and jewelry via regional and global markets. InDecember, Agricycle spun off Olacoral and it is now seeking its own funding. Agricycle has created many success stories within its network, Nderitu says.Many African suppliers are divorced or widowed women who have been able to usethe dehydrators to process fruit from their homes, landowner or not. One widow,for example, made enough money to build her own house; while another producerwas able to put two of her daughters in school — including a teenager insecondary school, which most girls do not complete. “What happens with most of these daughters who are unable to go back to school,they get married early and they sustain that cycle of poverty,” he says. “So, wehave a lot of hope in these initiatives that are breaking poverty cycles in thepoor households we serve.”

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