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iFoodDS, a Seattle, Washington-based provider of safety, traceability, and quality management data solutions for the fresh food supply chain, today announced the close of a $15 million series A funding round led by Insight Partners. iFoodDS CEO Scott Matthews says the capital will be used to support product development as well as market and category expansions.
Until early 2020, consumer spending on food in the U.S. had been remarkably stable, growing by around 4% over the previous five years, according to McKinsey. Then came the pandemic. Physical distancing and lockdowns reversed the trend, upending distribution channels, along with the companies that produce, process, and deliver food. For example, throughout the pandemic, food service suppliers have faced abrupt order cancellations that have left many with excess stock they can’t redirect because of packaging-size mismatches.
iFoodDS started as part of iDecision Sciences (iDS), a consulting practice whose principals came to the produce scene following an outbreak of E. coli associated with spinach in 2006. In the ensuing years, iDS worked closely with food growers and harvesters, packers and shippers, processors, and grocery and food service companies to develop safety practices and metrics for leafy greens and other produce commodities. From this work, iFoodDS was launched in 2013 to provide software solutions to manage the data requirements of food safety programs.
iFoodDS offers field-level data capture solutions for environmental assessments, inspection records, shipping and receiving, inventory, corrective actions, and more. It also performs risk assessments and management for preseason, daily preplant, and preharvest, leveraging a science team that builds environmental monitoring models. Building on on-site sampling and workflow analyses of plants, iFoodDS develops systems that identify the areas of highest risk for pathogens such as listeria. The company also helps standardize safety programs across different physical locations.
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For example, iFoodDS automates things like forms, checklists, and logs, storing data securely in the cloud. For distributors and grocery retailers, it provides tools for quality scoring, allowing customers to capture appearance or condition defects, temperature, and other metrics upon receipt from suppliers. Email alerts notify clients when freshness or quality thresholds fall below expectations, while role-based dashboards and reports help teams measure and identify the root cause of lost freshness and quality.
By Matthews’ estimation, iFoodDS is addressing some of the core challenges that continue to plague the global food industry. It’s anticipated that 23% of future food recalls will cost suppliers $30 million and that 52% will cost suppliers $10 million. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reducing foodborne illnesses by just 1% would prevent half a million Americans from getting sick each year.
“The past 12 months have brought unprecedented change to the produce industry — from changing consumer shopping behaviors perpetuated by the pandemic to new regulation proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These changes are accelerating a rapid transformation in the industry — one that is essential to delivering wholesome, high-quality produce,” Mathews said in a press release. “With the support of Insight Partners, we’re well-positioned to scale our efforts to help stakeholders in the supply chain improve their operations, provide transparency from farm to fork, deliver wholesome, high-quality produce, and connect their brand with consumers.”
Matthews says that in 2020, iFoodDS experienced “growth and expansion” that included welcoming some of the world’s most prominent produce, food service, and grocery retail logos to its customer base. The company also acquired HarvestMark, known in the fresh foods industry as one of the leading providers of food traceability software and quality insight solutions, with more than 22 U.S. patents.
Insights Partners led the funding round announced today.
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