The Kroger Co. Announces Second Innovation Fund Through Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation

By Thomas Price Thursday, May 13, 2021

As environmental sustainability in the food industry continues to play a larger role in the future, Kroger Co. has begun supporting innovative ideas from the startup world. Through the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation created by the company, Kroger is supporting startup companies that focus on creating consumer products that utilize upcycled food and food byproducts. The business recently announced the next 10 startup companies that will be supported through the second innovation fund from the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation.

Kroger corporate headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio.

10 Named Startups Supported by Kroger Co.

In the second innovation fund from the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, Kroger Co. focused both on environmental sustainability and diversity. In fact, 80% of the startup companies in the program have a female founder or co-founder, 60% have a Black, Asian, or Latin founder, and 60% of the startup companies are headquartered outside of California, New York, and Massachusetts.

The 10 startup companies that the business chose to support are Agua Bonita, Grain4Grain, Husky Beverages, Journey Foods, Matriark Foods, NETZRO, Renewal Mill, Take Two, and The Spare Food Company.

Agua Bonita is a business that makes agua frescas from upcycled produce and served in recyclable cans. Grain4Grain is a startup that uses spent brewers grain to create a high-protein and high-fiber baking flour and pancake mix. Husky Beverages is a company that sells sparkling tea made from the husk of upcycled coffee fruit, sparkling water, and natural fruit. Tech startup Journey Foods uses portfolio intelligence to solve food science and supply chain inefficiencies.

Food tech business Martriark Foods upcycles farm surplus and then creates healthy, affordable products for institutional food service. NETZRO has created a food tech platform that helps recover industrial byproducts that would be wasted otherwise. Food business reBLEND makes and sells frozen smoothie pops made exclusively of upcycled fruits and vegetables. Renewal Mill creates plant-based pantry staples through upcycled byproducts of food manufacturing. Take Two is a company that makes barley milk from spent grain used in beer production. Finally, the Space Food Company is a business that creates food and drinks through its upcycled food tech platform.

Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Funding and Support

Each company from the chosen cohort of 10 will receive a portion of the $2.5 million innovation fund to help with business development. The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation will provide $100,000 of upfront seed funding, which will be followed, with virtual workshops on networking, technical development, and cultivating skills.

Following the workshops, and after achieving specific milestones, each company will then receive another $100,000 to further support their growth. Two startups will then be chosen by their cohort peers to receive an additional $250,000.

When commenting on the second innovation fund cohort, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Executive Director, Sunny Reelhorn Parr, said, "We are incredibly impressed by this new group of creative thinkers and innovators tackling the upcycled food frontier. The Foundation is excited to collaborate with Village Capital to support the second cohort of innovators who are elevating food to its highest use and disrupting the linear supply chain. At scale, each of these solutions have the potential to create systems-level change, improve inefficiencies and prevent food waste."

About the Author


Headshot for author Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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