Fruit and vegetable peels are quite possibly the best food packaging, inspiring Foodberry, a Boston-based food tech startup, to take a cue from Mother Nature with its development of a new edible food coating that is positioned as a nutrient-rich coating. An alternative to plastic.
“Our modern, always-on-the-go lifestyle has created an increased demand for convenient foods that are easy, portable, and craveable,” says CEO Marty Cooley. “This convenience has come at the cost of decreased nutritional value, decreased health outcomes and increased plastic waste.”
Originally developed in laboratories at Harvard University and MIT, Foodberry is a new type of biomimetic in the form of sustainable, impermeable insulating layers that provide nutrient preservation and delicious moisture protection. It takes advantage of the natural chemistry of fruit skins and peels to coat foods with protective, plant-based layers made from nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable fibers, phytonutrients and minerals.
The Food Berry is especially useful for unwieldy foods, turning products like ice cream, yogurt, hummus, cheese, and peanut butter into convenient, bite-sized snacks to enjoy on the go.
“There is not just one Foodberry coating, it is a library of materials, inspired by the same diversity of coatings and structures found in natural fruits, all of which have protective and encapsulating functions,” explains Koliwe. “From thin grape skins to thick orange peels, and all variations in between, they can be produced in an almost infinite array of sweet and salty flavors and varied textures.”
According to the company, the shelf life of perishable Foodberries typically ranges from 60 to 90 days and is highly dependent on the type of food used. Frozen products can last longer – 1.5 years or more – as can shelf-stable products.
Shelf-stable foods such as peanut butter can be combined with a shelf-stable topping to make a shelf-stable product. An example of this is Trail Berries, two snack combos that combine almond butter with a banana topping and peanut butter with a mixed berry topping.
Biomimetic innovation in action.
Foodberry is gaining traction with a few promising projects. For example, it developed and launched its first commercial product partnership as a business with NadaMoo! Dairy-free ice cream Frozen Snack Bites is being rolled out in more than 700 stores. Foodberry has also secured consumer testing with several major global food brands across multiple product categories and doubled the total number of active product partnerships.
If new partnerships are any indication, there is a brighter future ahead. Following a successful pilot trial of “Coffee Berry” in partnership with a multinational coffee and tea company, the product is scheduled to be rolled out as a commercial launch in several hundred stores across the US and Europe in 2024.
Furthermore, Foodberry has just signed a deal to develop and test new product innovations with a yet-to-be-named multi-billion-dollar food and beverage brand, and hopes to use Foodberry’s proprietary technology to create unique product extensions within the snacking category.
The company was recently honored by the BostInno/Boston Business Journal’s Fire Awards, which honor innovative and successful startups, after increasing its 2023 product sales and revenue five times year over year from 2022. After closing pre-Series A financing in 2023, Foodberry will begin attracting additional investors for a Series A funding round to support its expected growth.