More than 45 million Americans are food-insecure, while 40 percent of all U.S.-produced food goes to waste each year. These numbers didn’t add up to the founder of FoodMaven — a socially innovative for-profit coming to Dallas-Fort Worth this year — so he set out to fix the issue.
“As a kid, I grew up on our family farm, so it really pained me to believe that so much of what our farmers and ranchers produce was getting thrown away,” Patrick Bultema, the co-founder, chairman, and CEO, wrote to Dallas Innovates. “That was really the genesis of FoodMaven.”
“We know that we can make a profit and do good. By living our values through our business, we create a win-win situation for everyone.”
FoodMaven was born in Colorado in 2015. Fast forward to three years later, and the company’s first out-of-state expansion is landing in the North Texas region this fall. The Lone Star State’s first introduction to FoodMaven will be at Chefs for Farmers in Dallas from Nov. 2 through 4, where it will participate as a Farmer Hero sponsor. By the end of 2018, FoodMaven plans on fully launching its DFW branch.
Although this is a for-profit business, FoodMaven is not a traditional food distributor. The company’s mission is to allocate food that would otherwise be thrown away due to issues such as oversupply, imperfections, or local access to restaurants. All of these categories garner perfectly edible food that, without FoodMaven, would otherwise all go to waste.
“We know that we can make a profit and do good,” Bultema says. “By living our values through our business, we create a win-win situation for everyone. As we say, FoodMaven is good for profits, good for people, and good for the planet.”
The food distributor leverages an “innovative online marketplace and rapid logistics system” to analyze the millions of pounds of food lost in the system each year, and how they can then sell it to buyers or donate to hunger organizations.
And this model seems to be working — since founding, the food startup has been making headlines and attracting big names. In January, Forbes reported that former co-CEO of Whole Foods Walter Robb joined the team, bringing extensive industry expertise and a major investment. Other investors include members of Walmart’s Walton family, as cited in a Fortune article.
FoodMaven has a zero-landfill policy, meaning that even if it doesn’t sell all of its food, it isn’t trashed. Instead, the food either gets donated to hunger-relief nonprofits, or if that isn’t an option, given to organizations like pig farms or zoos.
When deciding on FoodMaven’s first expansion outside of Colorado, Dallas seemed like the right fit to Bultema.
“After meeting with community leaders here, we quickly realized that we share the same values,” Bultema says. “Our mission really resonates with chefs and farmers in Dallas, so we know the FoodMaven model can be successful here.”
And, FoodMaven’s CEO isn’t the only one looking forward to his company’s move to Dallas.
“I’m very pleased to welcome FoodMaven to our city,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement. “I believe they will make an important contribution to Dallas’ efforts to reduce food insecurity, and help establish farm to table channels with our local farmers and ranchers.”
Dallas is only the beginning of FoodMaven’s nationwide rollout. Although FoodMaven has not yet announced its next expansion, it is in the process of creating social impact across the nation. Stay tuned.
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