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Katy Barfield | Founder & CEO | Yume Food Australia

Katy Barfield: Shifting Tides as the Food Waste Warrior

Reducing food waste can significantly lessen stress on the environment, and several significant initiatives can assist the food industry by implementing better procurement. Several organizations and individuals operate at different levels to find an alternative way to deal with surplus food. Finding an innovative solution to deal with the food wastage crisis, Katy Barfield founded Yume Food Australia, allowing food manufacturers and primary producers to sell their quality surplus products to commercial buyers at a discount.

As the CEO, Katy has dedicated her life to this cause, designing and implementing award-winning solutions to fix the market imbalances that generate food waste and loss. Her venture is the first Australian tech platform that allows the food industry to sell, donate and buy clearance and excess food. Insights Success caught up with Katy to understand how her efforts have disrupted the food industry for good making her one of the most inspiring women leaders.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Yume. What challenges did you have to overcome to reach where you are today?

The biggest challenge you face as a startup founder is money and time or lack of it. You have a plan, but more often than not, when dealing with innovation, nothing goes according to that plan. It’s a constant interactive process to find that elusive product-market fit, and when it’s technology-based, it’s an expensive process. I’ve found it always takes three times the money and four times the time you thought it would, and you have to dodge mister left field on a daily basis!

Tell us something more about Yume and its mission and vision.

Our mission at Yume is to make commercial food waste a thing of the past. Currently, the commercial sector in Australia wastes 3.2 million tons of food every year. This is happening before food even reaches supermarket shelves, let alone our homes. Yume’s vision is to see all good food getting to where it belongs by connecting clearance and excess food to other businesses in the food industry and to those who need it most via food rescue organizations.

Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the industry through your expertise in the market?

Yume has only been able to make an impact on the food industry by listening to the industry’s needs and collaborating to create technology that is actually of value. One of the reasons food waste occurs is because of inefficient processes along the supply chain. By listening to Yume users, we’ve been able to find solutions to these problems. So far, this has seen Yume technology prevent 3.1 million kilograms of food from going to waste.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

The Yume team is a passionate group of food waste fighters who are driven by the power of technology in creating a more sustainable future. We value integrity, grit, boldness, adaptability, curiosity, and lively foodie discussion!

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

Innovative technology is who we are here at Yume. The Yume platform is an ever-changing solution to the issues we uncover in food manufacturing that are causing food to be wasted. Our most recent advancement within the platform was building technology that streamlines how food manufacturers donate excess food to food rescue organizations.

If given a chance, what change would you like to bring to the industry?

Ultimately, we believe in the creation of a circular economy, where nothing produced is wasted. Yume has already started to facilitate repurposing projects, for example, the creation of a beer brewed with upcycled cereal byproducts.

What, according to you, could be the next big change in the industry? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

The big change happening right now in the food and beverage industry is that companies are waking up to their food waste problems. Writing off stock has been an ingrained and accepted process for a long time, and leaders are stopping and asking, “why?”. They want to do something about it. Yume technology is here to support this shift.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for the company?

Eliminating food waste is one of the most actionable levers in reducing CO2 emissions. Our planet is at a critical juncture, and we need to do everything we can to change how we think about food. Yume’s goal is to show all food manufacturers in Australia how valuable their food is and why it is so important that it is eaten and not wasted.

What would be your advice to budding women entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the industry?

The most important thing about doing business for good is to be surrounded by people who get the vision. They need to have the passion, integrity, and resilience to disrupt industries that don’t really want to change. You can’t do it alone.