Using a technology developed at Cornell University, an Indian-American-run food technology startup has developed a solution to produce long-life food that does not need to be frozen or refrigerated.
As a student in India and the third generation of his family working in agriculture, Vipul Saran had started a new business: exporting potatoes from west of Uttar Pradesh to the Middle East, a Cornell report said.
But the high costs for cold storage have become a “sticking point”.
To ship $ 2,000 worth of potatoes in a reefer container to Dubai in the summer, he would pay $ 3,000 – and lose $ 1,000 in profit before the product even reached the buyer. But shipping the potatoes in the winter – if it could get away without refrigeration – was only $ 96, the Cornell report said.
The solution was Farther Farms, a food tech startup that was co-founded by Saran and Mike Annunziata and whose technology was developed at Cornell. Its innovative sterilization technology produces storage-stable food that neither needs to be frozen nor refrigerated.
Their first product is the world’s first commercially available shelf-stable french fries – an important addition to an industry dominated by frozen french fries, which were first invented in the 1940s, the university report said.
By bypassing cold storage, the company wants to open up new markets in regions where there is no cooling, while at the same time reducing supply chain costs and CO2 emissions.
Saran, Chief Technology Officer who studied food science in India, and Annunziata founded Farther Farms in 2017 while enrolling at eLab, Cornell’s undergraduate startup accelerator, with the aim of bringing sustainable technologies to the next generation of food processing develop, it says in the report.
At Cornell, Saran, along with his advisor Syed Rizvi, Professor of Food Science at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, developed and patented the technology that Cornell’s Center for Technology Licensing then licensed to Farther Farms.
Farther Farms worked closely with CTL, joining Rev: Ithaca Startup Works in 2018, a business accelerator based in Ithaca, New York and supported by Cornell, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College, the report said.
French fries are just the beginning. The technology can be applied to any food product made from fruit, vegetables, dairy or meat, from solid to semi-solid and liquid foods.
Since eLab, Annunziata and Saran have received a Phase I research grant from the National Science Foundation and built a pilot production facility in Rochester, New York. The startup recently began distributing its flagship product, which guests can try at Luna Inspired Street Food in Ithaca and at The Hideaway and Radio Social in Rochester, it said.
And Endico Potatoes, a major redistributor of potato products in the New York metro area, stocks fries from Farther Farms.
Farther Farms continues to expand its business. The startup raised $ 12 million in its first major round of venture capital funding, led by a group of strategic investors including Endico Potatoes; Richard Porter, former president of Lamb Weston, a manufacturer of frozen french fries; and others in food and agriculture, the report added.
Farther Farms has grown from three to 25 full-time employees in two years and is hiring several highly qualified positions.