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Hungryroot Uses AI to Tackle Food Waste in the US

ByHuey Yee Ong

May 12, 2024
Hungryroot Uses AI to Tackle Food Waste in the US

Hungryroot Uses AI to Tackle Food Waste in the US

Hungryroot, a startup based in New York, is addressing food waste significantly with artificial intelligence. Nine years old, the company optimizes grocery deliveries by ensuring customers receive only what they need for their meals, reducing waste and enhancing sustainability.

The Growing Problem of Food Waste

In the United States, about one-third of all food produced ends up in landfills, according to industry statistics. This waste is not just a loss of food but also compounds the environmental costs associated with food production, including excess use of water, energy for production and storage, and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. A recent study published in the journal ‘Science’ quantifies the impact, noting that food production contributes to 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Traditional food delivery services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, and EveryPlate have attempted to address this issue by providing pre-portioned ingredients for specific recipes, which helps reduce waste. Hungryroot takes this a step further by integrating AI to tailor each customer’s grocery delivery to their specific tastes and cooking habits.

The process begins with customers answering a detailed questionnaire that covers:

  • Food preferences
  • Allergies
  • Health goals
  • Cooking routines.

Using this data, Hungryroot’s AI algorithms determine the most suitable recipes and corresponding groceries for each customer. Ben McKean, CEO of Hungryroot, explains, “Hungryroot is entirely designed to give you just the foods that you’re going to need for your week.” This personalized approach ensures minimal food is left unused, significantly reducing waste.

Customer Involvement in Reducing Waste

Moreover, customers are given the chance to preview and modify the contents of their weekly cart. This adaptability allows Hungryroot to make smart inventory choices; for example, if a customer has no strong preference between two vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and more broccoli is available in the warehouse, the AI will suggest broccoli to balance stock and prevent waste.

This efficiency extends to Hungryroot’s operations, leading to an 80% reduction in food waste at their facilities compared to traditional supermarkets.

The financial performance of the company has been robust, with sustained profitability over the past three to four years—an achievement highlighted by investor Jeremy Liew, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Liew credits this success to the company’s efficient spending and strong customer retention, underscoring that Hungryroot has built a business model that not only appeals to environmentally conscious consumers but also proves economically sustainable.

Hungryroot’s approach has attracted significant investment, with the company raising a total of $75 million from investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, L Catterton, Crosslink Capital, KarpReilly, and Lerer Hippeau. These funds are crucial as Hungryroot continues to enhance its AI-driven platform and expand its market reach, aiming to make a substantial impact on reducing food waste and its environmental implications.

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Featured Image courtesy of Dennis Klein on Unsplash

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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