Founder Spotlight: Christine Moseley
Tell us a bit about your company
Full Harvest is solving the massive food waste problem by running the first business-to-business online marketplace for imperfect and surplus produce, connecting farms directly to food and beverage manufacturers online.
What inspired you to start your business / what opportunity in the market are you seeking to address?
Billions of pounds of imperfect and surplus produce — more than 25% of all edible yields — go to waste every year in the US. Food waste is now the #1 contributor to climate change.
It’s a problem that so many food & beverage companies see, but one I wanted to solve. I spent 15 years in the logistics & food industries and saw a lot of waste and inefficiency. In my last role, I was helping scale one of the first green juice companies in the country, and while I loved what they were doing in terms of food and awareness, I was frustrated that they were selling $13 green juices that weren’t sustainable or affordable. I looked for the source of the problem and it boiled down to paying top dollar for perfect-looking produce that was then immediately processed. Why did it have to look perfect?
On a search for a way to make healthy food more affordable, I found myself at a farm stepping calf-deep on beautiful, edible romaine leaves. I discovered that up to 75% of the romaine was being thrown onto the ground and wasted after farmers only captured the “perfect” romaine heart for grocery stores and companies only willing to buy good-looking produce.
I founded Full Harvest to solve this problem with the first B2B marketplace for surplus and imperfect produce. The company’s vision is a world with zero food waste and 100% ‘full harvests’, where all edible grown produce goes towards consumption. As the Founder and CEO, I have raised over $17M in support of the business and have built a world-class team and board, both have more than 60% women.
Today, Full Harvest has sold almost 40M pounds of surplus and imperfect produce, equating to ~2B of gallons of water saved and 12M KG of CO2E emissions prevented. The company works with some of the largest farms and food companies in the world helping them to save time and money, while significantly improving their carbon footprint, a win-win-win for businesses, people, and the planet.
What about your personal background, experience, or perspective fuels your passion for this venture?
I spent 15 years in the logistics and food industries, and I saw the devastation of food waste firsthand. One day when I was walking calf-deep in piles of perfectly usable romaine that was not going to be sold, I decided there had to be a better solution and became emboldened to tackle the massive issue of food waste in our country.
I moved to San Francisco with only a suitcase and less than $25,000 in the bank. I had to not only figure out a way to live off of that for two and a half years in the most expensive city in the United States but also find a solution for food waste and bootstrap a company with a big mission. I was in my thirties living with four roommates and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I realized my initial food waste concept was not going to work. That didn’t stop me. I had wanted to start a food and beverage company utilizing imperfect produce, but could not find a consistent supplier, so I pivoted to become the supplier and Full Harvest was born. It launched the month that I didn’t know how I was going to pay rent.
What has been one or two of the biggest learnings so far?
I discovered that the produce industry is currently up to 96% offline. In 2020, my company launched a produce spot marketplace to amplify contract ordering. Produce buyers can also purchase spot produce needs with an Amazon-like shopping experience. I have recently seen orders purchased in a few clicks by buyers and confirmed by the farm with no human interaction other than coordinating the logistics, which is unheard of and a gamechanger for the industry.
COVID also shone a light on how broken our food system is without technology when even more food went to waste and even more people went hungry due to rapid supply/demand shifts. I saw the massive potential for utilizing their excess produce marketplace for the entire produce supply chain, given no solutions at scale for this. I now plan to scale Full Harvest globally to capture the $1.2T produce market and bring the produce industry into the 21st century with technology.
What is an obstacle you anticipate grappling with as you continue to build this venture?
One of the current challenges is scaling our operations. In order to move further, faster without owning assets, it is important that we partner with a logistics technology company, like Uber Freight, to help automate logistics and aggregate utilizing trucks vs. warehouses. It is now possible to do this given how fast the logistics technology industry is scaling. We are already in talks with Uber Freight and plan to roll out an API integration in H2 2021 to solve.
How can the WAFFA community help you?
As a Wharton alumni & company founder, I would love to connect with the WAFFA community to network and learn from other female founders who have paved the way for more women to be at the center of change and innovation.