Farm to fork: Eco labelling firm Foodsteps raises $4.1m investment

A platform that helps food industry giants such as Pizza Express, Wagamama, and Ask Italian to calculate, label, and reduce their environmental footprint “from farm to fork” has raised $4.1m from investors to support the next phase of its expansion, the company behind the service announced today.

Foodsteps, which is one of the first companies to provide traffic-light labels linked to a product’s environmental footprint, today also revealed that it is more than doubled its client base in 2022.

The seed funding round, led by Octopus Ventures, will allow the company to launch a recruitment drive as it seeks to double its team over the next 12 months and respond to growing demand for food labeling services.

The food sector contributions 26 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but Foodsteps said the sector was struggling to reduce its impact due to the challenge of gauging the sustainability of the industry’s sprawling supply chain.

The company emerged following research at Cambridge University and has developed a database of over 3,000 ingredients, containing impact information on any given ingredient’s carbon footprint, as well as its pollution, water use, and land use impacts. Traffic-light labels then give a rating from AE and a QR code which consumers can scan to learn about a product’s sustainability credentials, the company explained.

Other firms Foodsteps works with include food delivery services Allplants and Mindful Chef, as well as the catering team at Kew Gardens.

“Following calls to reach net zero, the food sector is putting sustainability at the heart of decision making,” said Anya Doherty, CEO and founder of Foodsteps. “But many bigger businesses are still struggling to assess and reduce their environmental impact at scale, which is slowing progress and leading to inaction. We hope our fundraising will accelerate the journey to net zero, by showing there really is an easy way for companies to slash their emissions and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.”

Over the next year, Foodsteps aims to use the new funding injection to improve its database, including through integrating more environmental impacts such as farm-level biodiversity and water use, and consolidating its market position.

The company also hopes to target more leading brands, while growing existing partnerships with WWF and WRAP to help ensure the largest emitters in the sector can decarbonise at speed.

“It is an immensely difficult challenge for businesses to understand in detail the impact of their food supply chains from farm to fork, but Foodsteps can make this possible in days,” said Lucy Clarke, investor at Octopus Ventures. “And they’ve not only made the process possible, they’ve made it scalable, meaning businesses can take data-driven steps towards reducing emissions and meeting net zero goals before it’s too late.”

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