Shelf Engine is leveraging the promotional power of celebrities to spread the word about the environmental and social impacts of food waste, and to support the startup’s solutions to address the problem.
Actors Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White, and Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes are helping fund and promote Shelf Engine. They are all part of a $ 2 million funding round that is announced today. Partnerships were facilitated through PLUS Capital, which pairs celebrities and athletes with companies that align with their values.
In March, Shelf Engine announced a $ 41 million round. The 5-year-old startup has raised $ 56 million in total.
“We are in a great position in terms of cash for the company,” said Kane McCord, chief revenue officer and president of Shelf Engine. Celebrity associations are “as much about participation and endorsements as they are about capital.”
Shelf Engine operates a technology platform used by supermarkets to manage food orders for their deli, bakeries, cut products, meats and seafood. Use forecasting tools and order automation systems to analyze order history, sales data, and other variables. The platform manages orders, pays vendors, and only charges the retailer for items that are sold. Shelf makes money by branding the product from supplier to retailer.
The company reports that retailers using the platform can reduce food waste by up to 32% while dramatically increasing profits. Shelf Engine says it has helped prevent more than 1 million pounds of food from being dumped in landfills.
Reducing waste can address food shortages and hunger, while providing environmental benefits when water, fertilizers, and other resources are not wasted on food that goes to waste.
“Every step we take to eliminate food waste is one step closer to solving the food insecurity crisis around the world,” DeGeneres said in a statement. “Shelf Engine is leading this fight against waste in retailers and grocery stores, significantly reducing the amount of fresh food thrown away every day.”
Shelf Engine is being used in at least 3,500 stores in the United States. Clients include Kroger, Target, and Whole Foods, as well as food service company Compass Group. The company recently opened a second office in Denver and has 200 employees nationwide.
McCord sees broad potential for expanding Shelf Engine services. The company could create food management tools for restaurant chains, product brands, schools and government agencies. It could inform shoppers of product price drops, letting them know, for example, when packages of strawberries are getting ready to expire.
The company’s leadership team also includes co-founder and CEO Stefan Kalb, co-founder and chief technology officer Bede Jordany Deborah Alexander, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.