The UN estimates that about one-third of all food produced goes to waste before it even gets the chance to decompose in your fridge.
That abysmal stat explains one key reason why leading VCs and celebrities have poured cash into companies that aim to prevent supply-chain food loss. There's Apeel, which makes a protective coating for produce; Shelf Engine, which predicts order volume via AI; and Misfits Market, which sells "ugly" produce.
PureSpace is another startup dead set on tackling the issue. Its team has worked on filtration tech to mitigate food loss in refrigeration trucks and food storage facilities. The Busan, South Korea–based startup's filters target ethylene in the air.
Bananas, strawberries, avocados, tomatoes and other types of produce naturally emit ethylene as they ripen. When this plant hormone accumulates in the air, it can cause nearby fruits and vegetables to age quicker.
PureSpace co-founder and CEO Sunyoung Lee told TechCrunch by phone that the company's chemists endured four years of "trial and error" to develop a catalyst that efficiently decomposes ethylene into CO2 and water, all to prevent premature spoilage. The startup claims its filters are "50 times stronger than previous technologies" and can remove 99.5% of ethylene in refrigerated trucks in just over 2 hours.
A Startup Battlefield 200 company at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, PureSpace currently operates as a subscription-based business in South Korea. It's tested its tech with Samsung, Walmart and several leading South Korean grocery stores.
Lee tells TechCrunch that the firm most recently raised a $4 million Series A round. Next, it aims to secure a $10 million Series B sometime later this year to fund its expansion into the U.S.