Across sectors, the race is on to plate up different ways to decarbonise and become more environmentally sustainable. The food industry is a key player in making societies more sustainable and the planet healthier and tech is helping accelerate the process.
With the aim to step up the food sector’s positive environmental impact, UK-based Foodsteps is providing vital help to enable food businesses to measure, reduce and then communicate the environmental impacts of their food. The startup has just picked up about €3.8 million in seed funding, in a round led by Octopus Ventures. Metaplanet, Ascension and the Conduit EIS Impact Fund also contributed.
The food sector is reported to contribute 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but its struggled to reduce its impact thus far – largely due to the challenges of measuring sustainability within the supply chain. Founded in 2019 and launched in 2021, Foodsteps is offering a radical new product – giving actionable insights from farm to fork. Created by Anya Doherty, the Foodsteps platform combines data, technology and the science behind food sustainability to make it easier for companies to see and reduce the impact of their operations.
The platform hosts a database of over 3k ingredients, containing impact information on an ingredient’s carbon footprint as well as pollution, water use and land use impacts. Companies can upload thousands of foods and recipes onto the platform and then have the associated carbon footprint assessed. The platform then gives advice on how to improve sustainability.
Anya Doherty, CEO and Founder, commented: “Foodsteps has been helping dozens of the UK’s most ambitious food companies to reduce their environmental footprint through our farm to fork data platform and labels. However, we need to do so much more. This funding will help us bring in the brightest minds in data and technology to accelerate our work. We’re also looking for food businesses and partners that are hungry to accelerate change and reduce their environmental impacts. Our commitment is to be a force for transparency, collaboration and ambition in the drive to fix our food system.”
Further, Foodsteps is pioneering the traffic-light label approach to food sustainability levels. Based on a product’s footprint, including carbon and environmental impacts, such as pollution and land use, the platform uses a traffic light raring from A-E and a QR code which consumers can scan to learn about a product’s impact. A product with a rating of A means it has a low environmental impact while a product labelled E has a high environmental impact. These traffic light labels allow consumers to clearly see climate-related information about the product they are buying and it ensures that companies are transparent about their sustainability.
The food sector is under increasing pressure to decarbonise, become more sustainable, and become more transparent. Foodsteps is timely addressing all of these pressures. It’s no surprise then, that in the past three months the company has doubled its client base and is already working with big clients such as Pizza Express, Ask Italian and Wagamamas.
The new funding will fuel a talent drive for the young innovators, as the team looks to expand its data and software engineer talent pool. Over the next year, the database will be improved and developed further – including integrating more environmental impacts, such as farm-level biodiversity and water use, and consolidating its market position as the leader for robust environmental data. The company also hopes to target the largest food businesses, increasing the list of household names on its roster. This will be in tandem with growing exciting partnerships with WWF and WRAP to ensure the largest emitters in the sector can decarbonise at speed.
Lucy Clarke, Investor at Octopus Ventures, added: “It is an immensely difficult challenge for businesses to understand in detail the impact of their food supply chains from farm to fork, but Foodsteps can make this possible in days and they’ve not only made the process possible, they’ve made it scalable, meaning businesses can take data-driven steps towards reducing emissions and meeting net-zero goals before it’s too late. Anya is exactly the type of entrepreneur Octopus wants to back.”