Dartmouth-based Outcast Foods is partnering with Nova Scotia farms to mitigate the massive food waste due to COVID-19’s decimation of the food service industry. Outcast will turn fresh produce into dried fruit and vegetables so it does not go to waste.

Farms are facing an unprecedented situation with millions of pounds of product remaining unsold because of the collapse of the food service industry, the company said in a statement. 

“Shortly after the rise of COVID-19 we started receiving calls from farmers that had no buyers for their fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Outcast Foods CEO Darren Burke.

He said they included “truckloads of beautiful sweet potatoes, carrots, blueberries, and kale to name a few… all of which would have been rotting on the fields or tilled back into the soil.” 

Outcast, which announced a $3 million round of funding in January, uses a three-step process to dry fruits and vegetables. The process locks in nutrients and extends shelf life to more than two years. 

"The amount of time and resources it takes to grow our products is substantial, which is why we are always looking for ways to reduce the amount ending up as waste or animal feed,” said Greg Gerrits, owner of Elmridge Farm in Centerville, Nova Scotia.

“Working with Outcast Foods provides us with opportunities to upcycle our surplus or waste products, thereby reducing our operational risks and improving our farm efficiencies.”

The company plans to build a processing facility to service the largest farms in the province. This plan is being expedited because of the growing need for shelf stable foods across the globe, the statement said.