Eco-labelling company Foodsteps raises $4.1 million as demand for sustainability grows

Foodsteps, a start-up that allows companies to calculate, label, and reduce their environmental footprint from farm to fork, has raised $4.1 million in seed funding to attract new talent and expand its market-leading sustainability platform.

The food sector contributes 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but the sector has struggled to reduce its impact due to the challenges of measuring sustainability within the supply chain. In response, Foodsteps founder Anya Doherty developed a platform following research at Cambridge University that combines data, technology, and the science behind food sustainability to make it easier for companies to see and reduce the impact of their operations.

The platform holds a database of over 3,000 ingredients, containing impact information on an ingredient’s carbon footprint, as well as pollution, water use, and land use impacts. Companies can upload thousands of foods and recipes onto the platform, which assesses their footprint (Life Cycle Emissions), and provides advice on how to improve sustainability.

The company is also one of the first to provide traffic-light labels on a product’s footprint, including carbon and environmental impacts, such as pollution and land use. The platform uses a traffic light rating from A-E (A meaning low environmental impact, E meaning high environmental impact) and a QR code which consumers can scan to learn about a product’s sustainability.

Traffic light labels allow consumers to clearly see climate-related information about the product they are buying, and ensure companies can be transparent about their sustainability. The recent IPPC report outlined the important role labels containing climate-relevant information will play in informing consumer behavior. Carbon labels are also expected to feature in the Government’s response to the National Food Strategy, which is due this summer.

The fundraising follows a period of rapid growth for Foodsteps, as companies respond to the demand for increasing transparency on sustainability from regulators and consumers. In the last three months alone, the company has doubled its client base and is now working with household names such as Pizza Express, Ask Italian and Wagamamas.

The fundraise will fund a talent drive for Foodsteps, as it looks to hire data and software engineers to grow and develop the platform. The company recently hired Andrew Stephen, former CEO of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and Board member of The Zero Carbon Forum as well as Liz Macfie from Century Tech as Head of Data. For job opportunities, please click here.

Over the next year, Foodsteps will focus on improving its database, including integrating more environmental impacts such as farm-level biodiversity and water use, and consolidating its market position as the leader for robust environmental data. The company also hopes to target the largest food businesses, increasing its list of high street names, and grow existing partnerships with WWF and WRAP to ensure the largest emitters in the sector can decarbonise at speed.

The investment round was led by Octopus Ventures, with contributions from Metaplanet, Ascension, and the Conduit EIS Impact Fund.

Anya Doherty, CEO and Founder of Foodsteps, commented: “Foodsteps has been helping dozens of the UK’s most ambitious food companies to reduce their environmental footprint through our farm to fork data platform and labels. However we need to do so much more. This funding will help us bring in the brightest minds in data and technology to accelerate our work. We’re also looking for food businesses and partners that are hungry to accelerate change and reduce their environmental impacts. Our commitment is to be a force for transparency, collaboration and ambition in the drive to fix our food system.”

Lucy Clarke, Investor at Octopus Ventures commented: “It is an immensely difficult challenge for businesses to understand in detail the impact of their food supply chains from farm to fork, but Foodsteps can make this possible in days and they’ve not only made the process possible, they’ve made it scalable, meaning businesses can take data-driven steps towards reducing emissions and meeting net zero goals before it’s too late. Anya is exactly the type of entrepreneur Octopus wants to back. With her team, she’s building a new category with an idea that can change the world for the better.”

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