Waste management company Suez has taken a 20 per cent equity stake in social enterprise Yume as the two companies strengthen their commitment to eradicate food waste and deliver a circular economy.
Yume founder and CEO Katy Barfield told Food & Drink Business that Suez taking a stake in the company meant it Yume could double down on its FMCG strategy.
“No one has invested money into streamlining the end-to-end clearance process plug in, so that is what we’re doing,” she said.
“We want to manage it from surplus right through to sale or donation. We don’t want to change what the companies are doing; we just want to make it efficient.”
Yume is currently running a pilot program with funding from the Victorian government, and Barfield says the Suez investment will “supercharge” its development.
Suez CEO Mark Venhoek said the partnership began in 2019 and taking a formal equity stake was the logical next step.
“There were a couple of factors that drove our decision, the main one being core to our business – that our purpose is to shape a sustainable environment right now. It makes perfect business sense for us to support an organisation that shares that ethos, challenging the way we look at surplus food and diverting it from landfill,” Venhoek told Food & Drink Business.
Barfield said, “Suez really walks the walk. When we were looking for partners in 2018, they already had landfill diversion managers on team. No one else had that,” she said.
“Last year, COVID-19 showed us that we weren’t being habitually used by businesses. We realised we needed to be integrated into their systems. Food was still going to waste and was being missed by antiquated systems or because someone was off sick or had left the company,” Barfield said.
A key problem is the low return, super complex nature of dealing with excess stock.
Venhoek said: “We are a global brand with global exposure and we can help take Yume to the next level – first and foremost, focus is on Australia as we have so much to do.”
Since Yume was founded in 2016, it has prevented nearly three million kilograms of quality surplus food becoming waste, and returned more than $8.4 million to growers, manufacturers and businesses.