Remember when mom wouldn’t let you leave the dinner table until your plate was empty? Now, there’s a startup that’s helping companies do that on a much larger scale.
Meet Spoiler Alert, a Boston-based startup that believes food is too precious a resource to be wasted. To that end, the company helps other companies use their leftovers in productive ways, facilitating food donations, discounted food sales, and organics brokering. And it’s clearly catching on — the company recently raised $2.5 million, and has also established a partnership with Sysco Corporation, the behemoth of a firm that makes around $50 billion a year by selling food and drink to restaurants, hotels, and other food purveyors wholesale.
So what does Spoiler Alert actually do to alleviate the problem of food waste? As CEO Ricky Ashenfelter told TechCrunch, nothing particularly groundbreaking, really. It’s simply making use of cloud-based software to make mutually beneficial connections, like those between a food producer and a food bank. “We offer the relevant accounting and reporting systems to capture tax benefits and document important financial, environmental, and social metrics,” Spoiler Alert notes on its website.
But that’s not all it does. Spoiler Alert also ensures that food isn’t judged by its aesthetics, and that a misshapen vegetable or a bruised piece of fruit will still find its way into our stomachs. It does so by helping farms sell “ugly” produce to companies that won’t use the food in its original form anyway, such as by selling imperfect oranges to orange juice makers.
Niko Hrdy, the president of Valley Oak Investments, which recently invested in Spoiler Alert, has high hopes for the company. “There has been increasing attention to social responsibility within larger food companies, coupled with increasing regulation in the U.S. mandating how people need to dispose of surplus food, and giving them tax incentives to do it in a sustainable manner,” Hrdy said. “The public’s eye is paying attention to products and services that are good for you, good for the planet, and our local economies.”