Full Harvest Founder: ‘I was frustrated that they were selling $13 green juices'

Full Harvest Founder & CEO Christine Moseley joins Yahoo Finance to discuss her company’s mission to reduce food waste, lower food costs, and create new revenue streams for farmers by creating a marketplace for selling surplus or misshapen produce. How this food tech company is disrupting the food industry and supply chain.

Video Transcript

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MARQUISE FRANCIS: Hi and welcome to "A Time for Change." I'm Marquise Francis joined this afternoon by my cohost Anjalee Khemlani.

As Americans are getting ready for Thanksgiving-- and if you're like me, you've been waiting for this day all year long-- there's somewhat of a sticker shock going around as the price of food has been steadily on the rise.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Marquise. All it takes is a trip to the local grocery store to see what the latest reports are showing. The price of food is up more than 5% compared to last year. Here's a quick look at what's going on.

It's official. Food has gotten pricier.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to a year ago, the cost of fruits and vegetables is up 3%. Cereal and bakery products up 3 and 1/2%. But the real sticker shock is with meats, poultry, fish, and eggs. They're up nearly 12%, the highest increase in 30 years.

So what does that mean for your Thanksgiving meal? The American Farm Bureau did the math and says Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people with Turkey and all the fixings will cost $53.31, up 14% over last year. The main increase, the main course. The price of a 16-pound frozen turkey is a whopping 24% higher than it was last year.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: And one way to slow down the rising price of food is to increase supply, right-- basic econ. And that's what our next guest is doing with her company Full Harvest, which takes fruits and vegetables that weren't hitting the marketplace and getting them into the hands of consumers. Christine Moseley, thank you for joining us this afternoon. Great.

So, Christine, you're solving a huge world problem, food waste. How did you make this into an actual business?

CHRISTINE MOSELEY: Well, after 15 years of working in the supply chain and food industries, I saw a lot of waste and inefficiency firsthand. And while I was helping scale one of the first green-juice companies in the US, I was frustrated that they were selling $13 green juices, and it was because they were paying top dollar for perfect-looking produce to just immediately process it. And meanwhile, found out that more than a quarter of all produce globally does not even leave the farm level that's perfectly edible just because it's surplus that were not perfectly shaped for grocery stores. So I started Full Harvest to solve that problem with the first B2B marketplace for farms to sell their surplus and imperfect produce into businesses for products like consumer packaged goods on store shelves.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: $15 green juice, it kind of reminds me of the avocado-toast phenomenon in New York City. But tell me a little bit more about those numbers. So how much food are you actually preventing from going to waste, and are consumers actually seeing the savings?

CHRISTINE MOSELEY: Yeah, so we have sold 45 million pounds of surplus and imperfect produce to date, and our buyers, which are some of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, are saving money, sometimes up to 10% to 20% off, and up to 95% of their time, which also leads to cost savings and efficiencies. And so we are starting to see some of that impact in the price of their products as well, lower.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Christine, I'm so glad you talked about consumers because I just wonder, you know, with leverage-- or leveraging technology to be able to make things more efficient, I know that, broadly speaking, there are other apps and companies out there sort of pursuing the same, just specifically for the consumer market like Misfits, for example. So I just wonder, do you see any room for that for your expansion?

CHRISTINE MOSELEY: Right now, we are hyperfocused on business to business and don't have plans to focus into the consumer markets, but we sell into food and beverage products which consumers buy. And so we have big partnerships with companies like Danone, who we created cobranded product under their Two Good "Good Save" line, which you can find nationwide on store shelves. And our seal is actually on packaging with the Full Harvest logo, and you know by purchasing this Two Good "Good Save" line that there's actually produce in there that would have gone to waste otherwise.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Well, that's useful information. I'll look out for that. Talking about other ways to sort of, you know, help stop food wastage and looking at the labeling of that, you know, let's talk about that use by, sell by, and best before by. I'll admit I use the smell test to help me out with this. So tell me, how can we help progress the move with labeling, with changing labeling?

CHRISTINE MOSELEY: I think it's a huge need, and I know that Michelle Obama and others were starting initiatives on that that are in progress. It's critically needed because it causes a lot of confusion and a lot of waste.

You know, during COVID, in my own household I found a way to reduce my food waste down by almost 90% just by putting things that were about to go bad on the top shelf and trying to go to the top shelf to eat first, and it was amazing how much food-waste reduction happened because of that.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Anjalee, just know that you're not alone in that smell test. I do that also.

[LAUGHTER]

Christine, your company motto is waste less, profit more. It seems like a simple concept, but obviously a lot of people are not doing it right. So what has been your philosophy to actually making this happen?

CHRISTINE MOSELEY: Our philosophy is the huge, critical need for technology within the food supply chain that has been dramatically missing for decades. And we are, at Full Harvest, digitizing the produce supply chain in order to reduce the cost and speed up efficiencies and bring data and insights that have just been missing.

And that's why last year-- part of the reason that we saw even more food going to waste and even more people going hungry. Today we currently produce enough food globally to feed the potential 9, 10 billion people on this planet. It is just simply a distribution problem that is difficult without transparency into markets, which technology can solve. And it can also incent growers to easily offload more product by connecting them to more markets and having access to more markets.

So that's really our mission at Full Harvest is to digitize the produce supply chain, to create a world with 100% full harvests, which means that everything that's edible goes towards consumption because we're running out of land, water, and resources. And if we are wasting up to a quarter of produce globally yet we're running out of land, water, and resources, eventually without bringing this quarter of the supply into the market, the prices of produce and products will go through the roof even higher. So it's something that we critically have to solve urgently.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Yeah. And I remember looking at the Full Harvest website, and you have some of the fruits and how things look. For the viewers who haven't seen that, how different does the food look that you would label as different or not usually edible that people would see in the grocery store? What does it look like?

CHRISTINE MOSELEY: Our customers actually are shocked that what we sold them would have gone to waste potentially because we actually ship direct from farm, so it doesn't go sit in a warehouse for four or five days. We don't own assets. We're a software company. And so it's faster and fresher.

And usually about half of it is just surplus. It's actually perfect looking. It just was excess. And so that, on top of saving four or five days in the shelf life, actually makes our customers, you know, view our product as higher quality in some aspects.

And then on the off-grade side of things, that just means that truly it could just be too small or too big or just a little curvier than normal. It's not necessarily because it's going bad or quality, anything like that. It's usually cosmetic just from a color or shape or size-- perfectly edible.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Christine, well, that's good to know. Really quickly before we let you go, I just wonder, you know, what was the business like during the pandemic? Because I feel like it's confession time for me, but one of the things that I didn't partake in is the whole bread-making phenomenon, but there was a lot of home cooking that sprouted. So tell me about, you know, what did you see? Was there greater or less interest in your services as a result?

CHRISTINE MOSELEY: So we were grateful that we actually tripled revenue during the 12 months, the first portion of the pandemic, given the desperate need from farmers and buyers to have more data and insights and transparency into the market. And so we saw this being a wake-up call for the whole industry that the traditional way of operating offline with pen and paper and no-- being data starved and no transparency is not sustainable with supply-chain disruptions, which unfortunately will continue with climate change as well. And so we saw a lot of interest rapidly increase in what we're doing as a company.

MARQUISE FRANCIS: Christine Moseley, Full Harvest cofounder and CEO, thank you so much for joining us.

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