Agritech startup Cambridge Crops lands $4 million in seed funding to eliminate food waste
Did you know that over one third of the food produced in the world is wasted? About one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various reasons. That equates to nearly 1.3 billion tons every year. Not surprisingly, industrialized countries like the United States waste more food than developing nations. In 2010, the average American generated about 219 pounds (99 kg) of food waste, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Many organizations and government around the world are doing the fair share to reverse the trend and taking different approaches to combat food waste. Cambridge Crops is an agritech startup with a mission to eliminate food waste. The startup is taking a novel approach to combat food waste by developing edible and natural biomaterial coating that extends shelf life of perishable foods. The startup is pioneering a natural, ultra-thin water-based coating that is applied to food to slow the exchange of gasses that cause decay.
Today, Cambridge Crops announced it has raised $4 million in seed funding to complete FDA and USDA regulatory milestones, invest in production scale-up, and continue developing meaningful commercial partnerships in the food and agriculture industry. The round was led by The Engine, the venture capital firm launched by MIT in 2016 to invest in early-stage Tough Tech companies. Other backers also include Refactor Capital, Closed Loop Ventures, Bluestein & Associates, SOSV and Supply Chain Ventures.
Founded in 2016 by Adam Behrens, Cambridge Crops, Inc. is a technology company focused on innovations in the food, agriculture, and packaging industries. Through an innovative and proprietary process, Cambridge Crops uses just salt and water to extract the protein from silk to create an all-natural and edible protective layer that keeps food fresher for longer. The patented technology can be integrated at any time from farm to shelf, allowing food producers, food processors, and retailers to extend shelf lives, reach new markets, and reduce waste.
Cambridge Crops is pioneering silk-powered technology that is applied to food to slow the exchange of gases that cause decay. Based on a natural protein that is extracted from silk through a water-based process, once the solution is applied to the surface of a food item, it forms an imperceivable protective layer that prevents oxidation, improves water prevention, and slows microbial growth. The earliest iterations of the breakthrough technology was born out of Professor Fiorenzo Omenetto’s silk lab at Tufts University and co-invented with MIT Professor Benedetto Marelli.
The protective layer is edible, tasteless, and does not alter the food, yet still delivers drastically longer shelf life. The solution can be easily implemented at a wash or coating station in the supply chain, and has proven efficacy across a broad range of food products; from whole produce and cut produce to meat and fish and everything in between. The technology enables food producers, food processors and retailers to extend shelf lives, reach new markets, and reduce waste — and to do it all in a cost-effective manner.
“Our team is focused on improving how we interact with our food supply,” said Adam Behrens, CEO of Cambridge Crops. “The technology we’ve developed has far-reaching impact, from minimizing our reliance on single-use plastics to expanding global access to safe and nutritious foods.”
“And I could not be more excited to team up with our group of investors,” said Behrens. “Each of them brings a unique perspective to Cambridge Crops and are unified in our vision to sustainably transform the supply chain.”
“We are excited to help advance Cambridge Crops’ efforts in building and bringing to market a technology that can reshape how the food system works,” said Ann DeWitt, general partner at The Engine.