Outcast Foods: Making beautiful food out of ugly produce
Monday, October 18, 2021
The founders of Outcast Foods know that beauty is more than skin deep. Darren Burke and TJ Galiardi created their business in 2017 to reduce food waste by upcycling produce that is visually imperfect or otherwise can’t be sold. They partner with grocers, farmers, food producers, and manufacturers across Canada to obtain unwanted produce, which they then convert to protein powders, dietary supplements and other plant-based ingredients for wholesale, retail and consumer use.
Regarded as “first-to-market” in the upcycled food category, Outcast Foods currently operates from its facility in Dartmouth and is in the process of constructing a 46,000-square-foot facility in Burlington, Ontario.
CEO Darren Burke has a PhD in Exercise Physiology and is an expert in the development and testing of supplements for human clinical trials. In June 2021, he was named a finalist in the EY “Entrepreneur of the Year” Atlantic program. TJ Galiardi, the company’s CMO, is a former NHL forward who played for the Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets. Both men promote sustainable, healthy lifestyles.
Burke and Galiardi have been friends for years. “We knew we wanted to do something in business together after I retired from hockey, and we kept coming back to food waste,” Galiardi says. “We saw all this perfectly edible food being wasted, and no one was talking about a solution. We had the simple idea of taking these fruits and vegetables and dehydrating them, giving them a two- to three-year shelf life. Since no one else was doing this, it was a giant opportunity, and we took on the challenge.”
An unexpected silver lining of the pandemic is that businesses started to reassess their supply chain and look for more local suppliers. “I think consumers as a whole have also started to look at their purchasing decisions more broadly and to see what their impacts are on the environment,” he says.
As we’ve grown, NSBI has been incredible. They’ve helped us tremendously from the start.
For Outcast Foods, this has been a big year. The company has closed a $10 million financing round led by District Ventures Capital, which invested $5 million. BDC also provided $5 million. The company’s growth plans include launching into the US market this summer and continuing to expand across Canada.
“As we’ve grown, NSBI has been incredible,” Galiardi says. “They’ve helped us tremendously from the start. We’ve used the Trade Market Intelligence program twice, and the Scotians Global Advisors program. We’re currently using the Business Development Program, working with a consultant to help us get ready for our next phase of growth and investment. And the Small Medium Enterprise Innovation Rebate Program is huge for us. That $500,000 has given us the ability to expand our Burnside facility in Dartmouth significantly and grow our exports.”
The impact of Outcast Foods goes beyond their products, Galiardi believes. “For the farms and companies and groups we work with to get the products they can’t use or sell, we’re saving them money, because they don’t have to pay to send it to a landfill,” he says. “We’re also bringing them great PR and reducing food waste with their help. And retailers are driving traffic to our products. Every single person who buys an Outcast Foods product is reducing food waste.”
Want to learn more about the companies doing business in Nova Scotia? Read the 2020-2021 NSBI Annual report.