Innovative Ideas Took Center Stage at FoodBytes! Pitch 2020

Ken Whitelaw|Dec 9, 2020

In a reimagined virtual format, FoodBytes! wrapped up the pitch competition recently. It was fast-paced, informative and inspiring.

Fifteen startups, poised to disrupt the ag and food industries, delivered overviews of their companies and how they are working to solve some of the challenges facing our industry today. It was an impressive lineup with Agricycle Global, Envara Health and SWAN Systems earning $10,000 from our parent company, Rabobank, and consulting services from FoodBytes! Pitch members, including DLL.

While each startup showcased a different product or technology, two of the trends that emerged across the group included food loss mitigation and plant-based solutions.

Ken Whitelaw
Ken Whitelaw
Head of Global Program
Management, Food and

Food loss mitigation: Food loss and waste highlight inefficiencies of our current food systems. According to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it is estimated that as much as one-third of the total food produced for human consumption is lost. The ripple effect from food losses and waste results in economic losses for farmers and higher prices for consumers. Reducing food losses and waste would increase the supply of available food, which helps remove some of the pressure of increasing production to meet growing demand.

Several companies, including winner Agricycle Global, featured methods to alleviate food loss. Agricycle Global is working to reduce food waste by turning waste into opportunity by upcycling food that would normally go to waste. Working with a global network of rural female farmers, Agricycle Global provides them with the appropriate technology, training and benefits. They have shown they can upcycle food loss into sustainable and ethical consumer goods, including sun-dried fruits that are all-natural and preservative-free. Other companies in this space include Wheyward Spirit, which sources excess whey from U.S. dairies and uses it to produce sustainable spirits, and Mi Terro, which re-engineers excess milk and dairy products into sustainable fibers that can replace plastic in the fashion, medical, and packaging industries.

While each startup showcased a different product or technology, two of the trends that emerged across the group included food loss mitigation and plant-based solutions."

Plant-based solutions: The plant-based trend continues to grow beyond alternatives in the meat and dairy markets and several startups have developed plant-based products for human consumption. Interestingly, these products are not only being consumed by vegans and vegetarians. A new consumer segment, “flexitarian,” is being used to describe those individuals who mostly eat a vegetarian diet but will still eat meat and other animal products.

According to Food & Beverage Insider, demand in the plant-based category has grown for several reasons. Advances in technology and innovation have led to better tasting plant-based products that have attracted flexitarians. Further, wellness has become an important driver in food choices and that has accelerated during the global pandemic, as people are paying more attention to their health and what they eat. Finally, there is growing concern over climate change. Consumers are more aware of the impact food production has on the planet and they are answering that with their food purchases.

Two of the finalists at FoodBytes! Pitch Virtual are using cutting edge food technology. Evo, based in India, plans to recreate the most popular foods with plants, starting with a liquid egg replica. While Pleese uses bean and potato proteins to make a plant-based cheese that melts perfectly on pizza. A third innovative company, incrEdible, manufactures edible cutlery — specifically an all-natural, vegan and compostable spoon meant to stay firm in both hot and cold foods.

Other startups in this space are using plant-based products to address health issues. Winner Envara Health is committed to advancing the field of medical nutrition and helping people who struggle with malabsorption (the inability to absorb nutrients). Their pilot product is a plant-based powder that enables the absorption of healthy long chain fats, calories and precision nutrients without the need for digestion. Further, Alchemy wants to transform how people eat by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates. Through a plant-based power blend, this technology promotes microbiome health and helps moderate blood glucose levels for individuals with diabetes.

Congratulations to all fifteen companies who participated in the Foodbytes! Pitch event.

The FoodBytes! program helps entrepreneurs grow their business and increase their ability to solve food system challenges through mentorship and connections to corporate and investor members. To watch a recording of the FoodBytes! Pitch 2020 virtual competition, visit