Over a third of food ends up wasted across the globe, with 6% of that occurring in the Latin America and Caribbean regions. Among that waste, the majority of it, around 70%, occurs prior to the consumer stage.
This is where Perfekto believes its subscription box of imperfect food can help. Launched in 2021, the Mexico-based company works with over 70 producers to “rescue” food and deliver it to consumers. Subscribers used to get a “surprise box,” but can now personalize their box and choose how much of each type of produce they want. On the backend, the company developed software that automates routing and logistics.
In the past year, the company was part of Y Combinator’s summer 2021 batch, grew to over 3,000 active monthly subscribers, and reached $1 million in annual run rate, Jan Heinvirta, co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch. Subscribers average two boxes per month.
“We saw an expensive problem that needed an urgent solution,” he added. “We felt like it’s time to do this because no more time should be wasted. We also saw a trend going in the direction of consumers being more responsible.”
It’s an expensive problem indeed, with the cost of food waste estimated to be around $940 billion each year. And that’s while 9.7 million people across Latin America have food insecurity. Add to that, grocery delivery businesses in the business-to-consumer space are traditionally a capital-intensive business. Even highly venture-backed companies find it difficult to reach profitability.
Heinvirta said it is possible to build a grocery delivery business with positive unit economics. Since December, Perfekto also grew over 10x across all key performance indicators and rescued 1 million pounds of produce.
“We have been very capital efficient, reaching $1 million in ARR having spent less than $1 million,” he added. “This is possible thanks to our subscription model, efficient logistics model, and strong organic growth.”
Heinvirta, who grew up in a Swiss farmer village and has a background in financial services, moved to Mexico and met Anahí Sosa, the daughter of a citrus producer who told TechCrunch that she saw how imperfections affected her father’s business. She went on to lead Uber’s grocery initiative in Latin America and later helped launch Cornershop in Costa Rica.
Together Heinvirta and Sosa, the chief operating officer, started Perfekto. They recently brought on Juan Andrade as the third co-founder and chief supply chain officer. Andrade was a logistics advisor to the company since it started and previously led Walmart’s e-commerce logistics operations in Mexico.