Bill Birgen, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, SAVRpak
The experience of being delivered soggy French fries and chicken wings is not all that uncommon — we've all been through this ordeal. However, do you ever think about why this happens?
It is a universal truth that moisture is the single biggest culprit in making food items mushy, a perennial pain point for the food services industry. A recent U.S. Foods Survey revealed that the biggest complaint by food delivery customers involved delivered meals not arriving fresh and warm (17 percent to be precise.) The use of chemical preservatives is one common way the industry keeps perishables fresh, as well as plastic lids with holes to vent the trapped moisture, but they still don't keep food fresh and crispy.
The choice is not all that savory: customers can either consume chemicals or grow accustomed to eating soggy food. One bi-product of the pandemic has been the acceleration of take-out and delivery. In fact, 2020 was a record year for the food delivery industry, generating over $26.5 billion from nearly 111 million users in the U.S. alone. Experts predict it will grow unabated to $42 billion by 2025. With immense pressure from the increasing demand for doorstep deliveries, restaurants and third-party food services companies are finally seeking healthier and more effective ways to keep their food fresh for a longer time. This is where SAVRpak, a food sustainability technology company, takes center stage. "All of us have suffered through soggy French fries, wilted salads, and chewy pizzas," says Bill Birgen, Founder of SAVRpak.
"To deal with this, we developed a revolutionary, easy-to-use peel-and-stick freshness pack that saves the quality of food, whether it is coming from a restaurant, the grocery aisle, or is sitting in your fridge."
Some 15 years ago, when Birgen was working as an aerospace engineer, he decided that he's had enough with his own soggy lunch. Using what he knew about the laws of thermodynamics, he created SAVRpak, a plant pulp-based product, taking three industry verticals by storm: food delivery, agriculture, and direct-to-consumer.
Today, SAVRpak, Birgen's innovative absorbent patch, traps up to 50 percent of the condensed moisture formed inside food containers and is now being manufactured in bulk. Once installed within food containers like clamshells, pizza boxes, and paper bags, the patch traps moisture from the air before it can convert into condensation. The peel-and-stick products help restaurants deliver fresh food, and the drop-in patch assists customers to lock in the nutrition, smell, and texture of the harvested vegetables and extend their shelf life.
All of us have suffered through soggy French fries, wilted salads, and chewy pizzas. To deal with this, we developed SAVRpak, a revolutionary, easy-to-use peel-and-stick patch that saves the quality of food, whether it is coming from a restaurant, the grocery aisle, or is sitting in your fridge
"I never intended to make a company out of this product," says Birgen. "But in the wake of COVID-19, I saw people preferring ordering food or getting take-outs. So, I thought, it is time to share this product with everyone."
With an early investment from Mark Cuban, who led a $3.5M Series A round, and through an initial order with DoorDash, smaller entities, SAVRpak has already solidified its footing in the food delivery services industry. Also, it has been collaborating with agricultural companies to help them preserve spinach, arugula, and microgreens to facilitate their operations and logistics. Apart from that, the company has begun to encompass the B2C market after securing the first position at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) conducted by Procter & Gamble (P&G).
With time, SAVRpak has evolved and adapted to the changes happening around it. It has come up with more products, including an anti-frost version of food preservation that helps consumers deal with freezer burns. "Our patented products are scientific, eco-friendly, renewable, and affordable," concludes Birgen. "If you want your food to be fresh, then we have the technology to keep it fresh!"