CINCINNATI – Kroger Co., through its Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation, plans to invest $2.5 million in collective grants to startups that support new ways to manufacture, process or distribute upcycled consumer food products.

The retailer called upcycled food “the next frontier” and invited applicants to submit proposals that promote a business model that requires sourcing surplus food or food byproducts and manufacturing them into new consumer-facing products. Those applicants chosen will receive $100,000 in upfront seed grant funding. Then the selected companies will participate in a virtual workshop focused on investment readiness, technical skill development and networking with a community of investors and mentors in and around the food system, according to Kroger.

Innovators also will be eligible for an additional $100,000 grant based on the achievement of identified program milestones. At the end of the six-month milestone development period, two startups will be selected for an opportunity to receive an additional $250,000 in funding.

“The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation is committed to helping build a more efficient and resilient food system and charitable food system in the US and beyond,” said Denise Osterhues, president of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts, we are more determined than ever to direct as much food as possible to its highest purpose: feeding people. We can no longer afford to waste surplus food at any level in our food system.”

More information about the program may be found at