RIYADH: $60 billion. That’s the amount the Middle East and North Africa region could have saved if it had not wasted its food, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
While it just needs anyone with the right mind to be concerned about the enormous waste, Dubai-based Right Farm has turned its crusade against food wastage into a business model.
The e-commerce and supply chain B2B company picks disfigured fruits and vegetables from its produce and reroutes them to pulp-making firms instead of the garbage.
For instance, a weird-looking carrot may stand out like a sore thumb in a sophisticated dinner spread, but why throw the root vegetable if one can prepare a smoothie out of it?
“Our model is focused on sourcing at the right price at the right time, the right products and specs that our demand-side needs and delivering those orders to our demand side,” Elie Skaf, CEO and co-founder at Right Farm, told Arab News.
Making best out of waste
The company sources food from farmers and supplies them to restaurants, hotels, catering companies, cloud kitchens and other food businesses across the UAE.
But, what makes them different is they pick nutritious yet disfigured greens and sell them for a fraction to retailers or trade it with food processors who may want to use them as a garnish.
How does that work? The company has struck partnerships with a couple of other startups that make better use of food waste. Not just that. The company has tied up with institutions that procure the refuse and use it as compost.
“We also have partners who collect our and our customer’s waste and feed them to black soldier flies. They then transform these flies and their larvae into protein and sell them as livestock feed; we get a revenue share,” Skaf added.
The company also provides financial solutions for restaurants with revenue on escrow because they get paid on credit cards or through food platforms.
“This is where we come in. We said we’re going to do a proper credit risk assessment on every account that joins us. And whoever qualifies would get immediate access to some sort of credit financing for their orders,” Skaf explained.
Not just space of waste
The company provides an all-in-one solution for restaurants that have just opened their first branch to support them with micro-lending, financial services, and food supply that was not available to them before.
Right Farm currently has 200 institutional customers in the UAE. However, it has lined up an ambitious expansion plan, targeting 300 customers in Saudi Arabia and venturing into other markets in the Middle East and North Africa.
As the UAE imports 90 percent of its fruits and vegetables, Skaf is exploring the Egyptian market as they are currently importing goods from the country to satisfy the demand in the UAE.
“Our trip to Egypt was purely supply-focused; we wanted to build relationships with farms and solidify our network of farms in Egypt. And that’s sort of a first step to launching a demand and supply market like Egypt,”
Right Farm last month raised $2.8 million from investors, including Abu Dhabi state holding company ADQ’s venture platform and Enhance Ventures. The company plans to use the proceeds to support its technology development and growth plans.