Overview of Capital Tracker
- In 2016, ReFED launched its landmark Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20%. That initial report
became a touchstone for those in the food waste space, but there was a growing need for more – and more granular — data about the issue to fill in knowledge gaps and move the food system from awareness about the issue to insight-driven action. In early 2021, ReFED launched the ReFED Insights Engine which is the next generation of data, insights, and guidance on U.S. food waste. This online data and solutions hub for food loss and waste is designed to provide anyone interested in food waste reduction with the information they need to take meaningful action. Informed decision making is needed to achieve national and international goals of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030.
Current Insights Engine tools include:
Food Waste Monitor: Centralized, trusted repository of information built with data from more than 50 public and proprietary datasets that shows how much food is being wasted in the U.S., why it’s happening, and where it goes.
Solutions Database: Provides a stakeholder-specific, comprehensive analysis of 40+ food waste reduction solutions based on impact goals, along with detailed fact sheets on each
Solution Provider Directory: Connects users with a vetted list of 1000+ nonprofit and for-profit organizations ready to help implement food waste reduction solutions.
Impact Calculator: Quantifies the impact of wasted food on the climate, natural resources, and recoverable meals.
Capital Tracker: Monitors the flow of capital into food waste innovation, allowing users to understand the landscape, identify key players, and plan out future funding strategies.
Policy Finder: Reflects current food waste policy at the federal and state levels to discover best practices and recommendations for policy improvements that will support more food waste prevention, rescue, and recycling.
The Capital Tracker allows users to gain insight on where and how much capital is flowing in food waste in the U.S, broken down by recipient, funder, capital type, solution categorization, deal date, and many other dimensions. Before creating this tool, the ReFED team sought feedback from its network of industry professionals from businesses, capital providers, government agencies, nonprofits, and academia, to understand the industry need and use cases for this data. The Capital Tracker was designed to incorporate this feedback and fill key needs and data gaps not covered by existing tools in the market. The following are the key goals that ReFED has sought to meet when designing the Capital Tracker tool:
Defines the food waste funding landscape for the first time: Defining which thematic funding areas are associated with food waste reduction is a difficult task that ReFED has completed and made public for the first time through this tool. By defining this landscape, ReFED aims to help the industry to standardize its thinking about what types of solutions and innovations are considered to be viable food waste reduction strategies.
Food waste specific: The Capital Tracker is the only investment database geared specifically to food waste. The closest alternative method to arrive at this information has been to filter larger databases by loosely related topics such as “Ag Tech” or “Food Systems” that may have some overlap, but are not perfect proxies for the topic of food waste.
Automated keyword scan yields a thorough picture of food waste funding to date: Over the last six years, ReFED’s subject matter experts have developed a curated list of keywords used to describe food waste related topics (e.g., “compost”, “food recovery”, etc.). Using these keywords, ReFED’s automated investment scanning system is able to search for and identify investments that may be related to food waste for the team to review. This automated scan is a more thorough approach than past attempts by ReFED and others to quantify the space. Subject matter experts still review the data, and in particular, the transactions that might be on the cusp of consideration.
To include a variety of capital types: The ultimate goal of the Capital Tracker is to bring a variety of capital types (including public, private, and philanthropic) together into one centralized view.
Frequently Updated and Interactive
Frequently updated: Due to the automated nature of the system ReFED has developed to assist in ingesting, reviewing, and maintaining investment data, ReFED is able to provide frequently updated information to the public. For instance, private capital investment data is updated on a weekly basis.
User-friendly online format: The interactive, online Capital Tracker visualizes the data and allows users to see the big picture and to filter to information that is most useful to them. The Capital Tracker allows users to track funding amounts and deal counts over time, view individual transactions, and filter by food waste solution type, capital type, funding amount, deal date, funder, recipient, and recipient legal status (e.g., non-profits only)
Rapid feedback loop: The Capital Tracker is intended to be iteratively designed as user needs evolve and become more clear. ReFED’s automated system allows stakeholder feedback to be quickly incorporated.
Highest Quality Information
Best-in-class data sources: Thanks to the generous support of ReFED donors allowing us to acquire the highest quality datasets, the Capital Tracker relies on the best available data sources to quantify investment.
Curated by ReFED’s subject matter experts: The ReFED team spends a great deal of time reviewing individual transaction data to ensure the latest industry thinking and methodologies are being applied; thereby providing the highest quality information with users. Additionally, the tool benefits from the expertise of ReFED’s large network of stakeholders who provide input.
The Capital Tracker is being launched in beta version to allow ReFED to collect feedback from initial users and iterate as needed. On an ongoing basis, the tool is meant to be adaptive to changes in the sector and to continuing feedback from users. The tool is being launched with private and philanthropic funding data sources from PitchBook and IRS 990-PF forms, and we will be adding government funding data in its next phase of development.
NOTICE AN ISSUE WITH THE DATA?
Send us an email! The Insights Engine was designed to be radically transparent so that the community of people using this work can help spot issues and identify opportunities to continually improve the data over time. If you see any mistakes, have additional information, or have recommendations for how to improve this resource, please let us know.