On Sept. 19, 15 sustainable food and agriculture entrepreneurs showcased solutions to improve the way we grow food and feed the world at FoodBytes! Chicago, a live pitch competition and business mentorship platform presented by Rabobank, the world’s largest food and agriculture bank. The selected startups each had three minutes to pitch on stage before a panel of judges, which included investors and executives from global food and ag companies.

Capro-X, Ithaca, N.Y., won the People’s Choice Award for its technology that upcycles dairy food waste, the competition’s organizers said. Greek yogurt production generated 2 million metric tons of acid whey in 2015 alone, much of which cannot easily be discarded. Capro-X’s WheyAway technology ferments and distills whey on-site to produce natural bio-oils that can be reused in food and beauty products as a replacement for unsustainable palm oil derivatives.  

Tia Lupita Foods, Tiburon, Calif., won the Consumer Packaged Goods Award for its use of drought-resistant cactus, the show’s organizers said, while Chicago-based LocalCoho won the Food and Agriculture Technology Award for sustainably producing fresh Coho salmon.

The entire group of selected startups will receive ongoing opportunities for networking and mentorship as part of the FoodBytes! alumni community.

“All of the startups we watched at FoodBytes! Chicago showcased some of the most innovative solutions we have seen yet when it comes to building a more nutritious and sustainable food supply,” said Darren Streiler, investment director, ADM Ventures, who served as a judge on the panel. “The key trends that emerged among our pool of applicants this year centered on plant-based and functional foods, climate-resistant crops, food waste and precision agriculture.”

FoodBytes! Chicago is supported by presenting sponsor ADM, along with official sponsors Printpack, Polsinelli, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, FoodSpace and JBS USA, and supporting sponsors Agropur Cooperative, Germin8 Ventures, Creative Alignments, TIG, Boulder Food Group, DLL and The Food Foundry.