Today’s eaters are pickier about their food than ever before — but it’s less about how the meal on their plate tastes, and more about where it came from and what it contains. Consumers are increasingly seeking more information from food manufacturers and producers, with almost half of consumers reporting they don’t know enough about a product from its label, and two-thirds saying that the brand should be communicating more information.
To capture back their customers’ loyalty, food companies are trying to increase transparency, providing more insight into where they source their ingredients, how they travel to their destinations, and how they’re put together. One Durham-based company is helping them do that.
“Food companies are embracing global standards to increase efficiencies and build a foundation for traceability and supply chain visibility,” says FoodLogiQ’s CMO Katy Jones. “Food traceability promises more data at every step of the supply chain, allowing food business to identify potential hazards and mitigate risks of compromised product.”
“As customers and consumers gain more visibility into the source of their food, greater accountability will be a natural result, and that means safer food for everyone.”
FoodLogiQ’s supply chain software allows suppliers and farmers to provide details about things like how the food is grown, whether and what pesticides are used, and how the product is shipped.
With 7,000 registered businesses in over 100 countries, and clients like Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Amazon-owned Whole Foods, the company is growing quickly. Last week they announced a $19.5 million funding round to accelerate that expansion.
The oversubscribed round was led by Renewal Funds, with participation from Tyson Ventures, IoT technology provider Testo, Pontifax AgTech, Nicola Wealth Management, and Greenhouse Capital.
“As FoodLogiQ grew and its customer solutions evolved, it was a natural progression for us to consider a financing round,” says Jones. “We always anticipated a $16 million total round and recognized it would require several closes. Given the significant investor interest we received, our Board agreed to expand the round to allow for several high-impact investors to join.”
Tyson Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Tyson Foods, is one such investor. “Tyson Ventures invests in companies that are developing breakthrough solutions for the food supply chain, and we see FoodLogiQ as a leader in technology-enabled traceability,” said Tyson Foods’ EVP of Corporate Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer Justin Whitmore.
Strategic investor Testo, which produces monitoring and tracking technologies specifically for the food service industry, announced last month that it would integrate their temperature-monitoring sensors with FoodLogiQ’s platform.
“Pairing mobile temperature sensors with traceability data will allow food companies to pinpoint exactly where and when in the chain of custody if product goes out of temperature range,” explains Jones.
The company plans to use the funding to accelerate product enhancements, R&D, and expand their sales and marketing teams.
Policy is on their side as well. After a series of high-profile food recalls and safety incidents over the last year, the FDA has tightened standards on traceability.
According to a Forbes article recognizing FoodLogiQ as a top 25 Most Innovative AgTech Startup, the average food recall costs companies $10 million. FoodLogiQ takes all that tracking off of paper spreadsheets and onto a secure, cloud-based platform that lets companies stay compliant and be ready for audits. It also provides insight into sustainability practices, a big draw for customers in today’s purchasing climate.
As FoodLogiQ grows, leaders say the Research Triangle Park is an ideal home for them. AgTech is flourishing in the state — not only is agriculture the biggest industry in North Carolina, but the many local life sciences and biology companies are spending money to incubate startups that can accelerate innovation in the space.
“Durham sits in the midst of the Research Triangle, a world-class tech hub. With so many universities and a growing start-up community, it’s a great market in which to recruit talent,” says Jones. “Opportunities abound for the innovators.”