Foraged Raises $2.7M for Fresh Food Marketplace

Consumers are hungry for fresh food — something Big Food conveniently doesn’t stock.

What’s happening: Foraged, a digital marketplace for wild and specialty foods, secured $2.7M in a seed round led by Bessemer Venture Partners.

Founded in 2021 to combat high prices and expand distribution for small-scale mushroom foragers, Foraged connects independent producers and farmers—from organic eggs to dive-to-order seafood—with consumers.

A self-proclaimed antagonist to Big Food, Foraged has served “tens of thousands” customers, and the platform’s number of repeat shoppers has recently increased over 1,000%.

Fed Up

While ultra-processed foods dominate the standard American diet, more consumers are seeking out healthier alternatives — even if it costs more.

Foods with benefits. With more Americans aspiring to eat more vegetables and fewer processed foods, the majority see organic and functional options as areas to explore.

Of note, US sales of organic produce topped $60B for the first time in 2022, even in the face of record inflation.

This includes the burgeoning interest in mushrooms. With the market expected to reach $127B by 2030, everyone from alt-meat producers Fable Food and Meati Foods to beverage makers MUD\WTR and Four Sigmatic is touting their holistic benefits.

Waste not, want not. But, outside a local farmers market, the economics don’t add up for small-scale producers of things like mushrooms, honey, and small-lot produce.

And worse, despite the rise of regenerative agriculture, the US food system incentivizes megafarms and wholesale distribution that invites in contaminants, degrades nutrient density, and leads to a significant amount of wasted food — up to 40% of Americas food supply ($408B annually) never makes it into our stomachs.

Attempting to pick up the pieces, Too Good to Go operates a DTC marketplace for restaurants and groceries stores to sell surplus produce, and the merger of Misfits Market/Imperfect Foods created a nationwide delivery service for “ugly” produce that might otherwise be thrown out.

Backing the basics. A societal problem, the American food system is broken all the way to the source. But efforts to support healthier production, while fledgling, look promising.

  • Validating a number of efforts to take food as medicine mainstream, in February, the Biden Administration okayed the use of Medicaid funds for fresh food and nutritionists.
  • Bringing together community and the benefits of gardening, “agrihoods” are springing up across the US, with long waiting lists for self-sufficient, commune-style living.
  • Overseas, Germany’s Ingarden seeks to replace dietary supplements with homegrown microgreen production, and Australia’s Invest Inya Farmer puts early-season capital in the hands of farmers in exchange for a proportionate share of the harvest.

Big picture: For small businesses who focus on healthy food, competing with conglomerates makes platforms like Foraged necessary. A bigger shift, with better food clearly linked to better health, communities would benefit from supporting “honest work” — buying from a butcher, a beekeeper, and more local farmers over big-box grocers.

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