A Wal-Mart store Salinas, California, US. Picture: ISTOCK
A Wal-Mart store Salinas, California, US. Picture: ISTOCK

New York — Members of the Walton family, heirs to the Wal-Mart Stores fortune, are backing a start-up that thinks it can turn a profit by reducing food waste.

The business, FoodMaven, has completed an $8.6m Series A fundraising round that includes financing from the billionaire Walton clan. The family office is Walton Enterprises, which holds nearly half Wal-Mart’s stock.

The Colorado-based start-up, which went live in July 2016, is creating a marketplace to find buyers for food that has been rejected by retailers, for any number of reasons, but is still good to eat. An estimated $200bn worth of food is wasted in the US each year — largely the result of a food system this is inflexible, according to Patrick Bultema, FoodMaven’s CEO.

"The industry has accepted waste as a cost of doing business" he said. "We’re making pathways that don’t exist in the food system."

FoodMaven currently has about 700 customers in Colorado, including restaurants, hospitals and large institutional cafeterias. The company, which expects to do about $10m in revenue this year, buys products at a discount — say, a pallet of frozen pizzas with a mistake on the box, excess chicken a supermarket chain doesn’t need, or heads of lettuce that got rejected for cosmetic reasons — and then finds buyers for the food. If they can’t locate a buyer, the food is donated.

Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, joined the board of the start-up last year.

Wal-Mart, the largest seller of groceries in the US, based in Arkansas, has been working to reduce its food waste.