(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Baltimore-based Hungry Harvest merged with a North Carolina company that similarly aims to fight food waste by delivering ugly produce.
The merger convened Hungry Harvest and Durham-based Ungraded Produce, which was founded in 2016 to deliver in the Research Triangle area; Ungraded’s customers are now getting deliveries from Hungry Harvest. Ungraded Founder and President Courtney Bell is still engaged to push the work forward, and drivers from the company are joining Hungry Harvest’s team, as well, Hungry Harvest CEO Evan Lutz told Technical.ly.
Hungry Harvest was already delivering its boxes of produce that would be rejected by grocery stores or other markets due to look or bruising in the Research Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. The two companies decided to team up.
“We found that there’s a lot more efficiency doing it with one company fighting food waste in North Carolina rather than two companies competing with each other,” Lutz said. The efficiencies include in the area of technology, where Hungry Harvest’s customization capabilities are being added for Ungraded customers, Lutz said. The companies also had overlap in suppliers.
As far as offerings, the two companies have similar-sized boxes of produce, but Hungry Harvest also has add-ons like eggs, cheese and bread. The companies also both have a mission of fighting hunger, with Hungry Harvest providing access through produce donations to nonprofits and via Produce in a SNAP markets.
News of the merger with Ungraded was first reported in late June by IndyWeek of Durham.
“We’re the home team, so we have that local touch that people really value in the area, and Hungry Harvest has a robust supply team and a more developed process,” Bell told that outlet.
City Garage-based Hungry Harvest is an alum of Conscious Venture Lab, and got a boost via an investment on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The company has 60 employees, and is now delivering in six cities, Lutz said.
The merger comes as there’s been news from a couple of other companies delivering ugly produce. Misfits Market recently raised $16.5 million, our sister site Technical.ly Philly reported, and San Francisco-based Imperfect Produce also delivers the fruits and veggies that would otherwise go discarded.
In working toward the mission of reducing food waste, Lutz sees room to create more efficiency and for the companies to potentially work together. At the same time, he said, “there’s plenty of room in the market for a few companies to compete and build successful businesses.”
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