You may not know that eating fruit rinds typically triples or quadruples the dietary fiber that you would receive from eating peeled fruit. Kiwi skins, for example, have three times more fiber that is correlated with lower chances of getting cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Plus, they are packed full of nutrients. Citrus and peach peels as well as watermelon rinds are highly concentrated with antioxidants including Vitamins A and C.
Yet, many consumers are unaware that they are anything more than a protective shield. RIND is trying to change that by leaving the peels on when producing their chewy, dehydrated fruit snacks, thus diverting waste from the landfill and maximizing nutritious value at the same time.
RIND, CEO Matt Weiss, who founded the company in 2017 (and announced the close of their Series A capital raise on June 16), told Crunchbase News, “I am always finding new products that I enjoy that could turn into big ideas. I was also amazed by how much produce was wasted because the peels are edible and is where the most nutrition is available.”
Food waste is a huge problem in the US: on an annual basis, we waste almost 40 million tons of food, and about 30 to 40 percent of that consists of fruits and vegetables. “Imagine walking out of the grocery store with five bags of produce and leaving two in the parking lot,” RIND’s website exclaims. By including the rinds in the production process, the company found a better end-use for more than 120,000 pounds of edible material that would have otherwise been thrown out in 2020 alone.
RIND has been rewarded for this innovation. In 2020, it has seen its revenue grow five-fold, and in 2021, it expects annual sales to grow by more than three times. After launching their first snacks in 2018, their products were available in 1,000 retail locations beyond their website by 2019, and are now in more than 3,000. Some of these include popular omni-channel brands like CVS, Meijer, The Fresh Market, Wegmans, and Whole Foods Market, while others are newer entrants and delivery companies like FreshDirect, Hungryroot, and Imperfect Foods. Reflecting on this expansion, Weiss told Forbes, “In a post-Covid world, we have made it a priority to partner with key accounts across all customer channels to maximize RIND’s presence and discovery potential.”
Operating in both the upcycled food market and the fruit snack market, RIND is at the intersection of two increasingly popular categories. Whole Foods forecasted upcycled foods to be one of the top 10 food trends for 2021, even though the Upcycled Food Association was recently created in 2019. And the fruit snack market had already reached a $4.7 billion valuation in 2018, with a compound annual growth rate of 8.4 percent expected until mid-decade.
The $6.1 million Series A capital raise, which was led by Valor Siren Ventures (VSV), with an additional contribution from Melitas Ventures – who led the seed round in January 2020 – adds up to $8.4 million in total funding. Valor will be a key partner, as Weiss explained in the press release, “[VSV] shares our vision for awakening this category with a keen focus on function and sustainability.”
The funding is key to the company’s continued growth: it will be used to expand their team in areas like sales, marketing, and operations and to build up their production capacity by adding supply chain partners and technologies. And the growth is not poised to stop, with RIND branching into adjacent food categories. Their crunchy fruit chips are launching this year in three flavors (apple, orange, and kiwi); with each bag, Weiss told FoodNavigator-USA, “you are getting 300% of your daily value of vitamin C, you’re getting 16 grams of dietary fiber and there is all of 250 calories in the entire bag.” Weiss also hinted at other future plants to Crunchbase: “dried fruit is just the beginning. We have a big, bold vision around the concept of skin-on snacking, including vegetables roasted with their skin on where we waste no part of the fruit or vegetables. We are just getting started.”