Santa Paula-based Calavo Growers has received $10 million in funding and named a CEO for its FreshRealm food distribution platform, it said on Thursday.
Michael Lippold, who is the former director of strategic development at Calavo, will lead the new venture, which is based in Ventura. FreshRealm, a new cloud-hosted technology platform that connects growers, retailers and other food-system operators, will use the funds to launch later this year, Calavo said.
Calavo Growers is one of the largest avocado and lemon marketers in the world. The FreshRealm platform will connect consumers and retailers with a national network of companies that supply, produce and ship food, it said.
Impermanence LLC, a group that includes technology veteran Peter Hajas and other advisors to FreshRealm, provided the $10 million investment. Calavo Growers holds a 50 percent stake in FreshRealm, down from the 70 percent it previously owned.
Hajas joined FreshRealm’s board following the investment. As an emerging industry, the market for food delivery is untapped but full of potential, Hajas said in a press release. “The world-changing possibilities of data-driven food solutions are immense,” he said. “For years, technology has only been hovering around the communication and distribution parts of the food industry. FreshRealm rethinks the entire process in a way that benefits food makers, consumers, and our society at large.”
Lippold was heavily involved with the development and early growth of FreshRealm, the companies said. “Lippold took the FreshRealm idea from inception to where it is today,” Calavo Chairman, President and CEO Lee Cole said in the statement. “He brings the skill sets and the vision at the optimal moment to make a major impact on the way we distribute, purchase and consume fresh food.”