Wonderful Company launches ‘Innovation Challenge’
Company seeking solutions for pomegranate husks
–Today The Wonderful Company, which owns Justin Winery in Paso Robles among other brands, announced the launch of the “Wonderful Innovation Challenge.” The company is offering up to $1 million in funding and development resources to innovators. The competition seeks to discover economic and environmentally friendly pilot-ready solutions for the 50,000 tons of pomegranate husks generated each year by juicing POM Wonderful pomegranates. ReFED, a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system, serves as strategic advisor and managing partner for the challenge.
To create the juice for POM Wonderful, pomegranates are harvested and transported to the processing facility, and conveyed to a mechanical press where they are crushed, leaving behind a husk made up of rind, pith, and seeds. The juice is extracted and sent to be bottled while the husks are discharged.
“The Wonderful Innovation Challenge was born out of our mission to continually push the boundaries of sustainability by embracing bold, innovative ideas,” said Steve Swartz, vice president of strategy at The Wonderful Company. “This competition will provide a select group of winners the resources they need to grow their business, make a positive impact, and help us fulfill our environmental mission.”
“Innovation can play a critical role in driving efficiency and value, as well as in addressing environmental challenges,” said Alexandria Coari, Director of Capital & Innovation, ReFED. “The Wonderful Innovation Challenge is a call for inventive solutions that can create value from this byproduct. We’re excited to partner with The Wonderful Company in their search for innovators that will positively impact the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.”
Registration is now open through Dec. 7 for interested individuals, teams, and business entities. A single-track application process will shepherd applicants through four review stages. In the first round, teams will submit a short application with information about their proposed solution. Qualified applicants will then be invited to submit a full application detailing their approach. In the third round, a group of semifinalists will be invited to participate in a virtual interview. For the fourth and final round, a group of finalists selected from the third round will be invited to pitch their solutions virtually to our panel of judges. Finalists will compete for the $1 million award pool and request the amount they need to develop their pilots.
This challenge is a critical part of the more than $1 billion the company has invested in environmental sustainability and fighting climate change. That includes $400 million in water-efficient irrigation systems, eco-friendly pest control, and creative ways to reduce energy use; $60 million earmarked for future solar projects; and the unprecedented $750 million pledge from company owners Stewart and Lynda Resnick to Caltech in support of the school’s environmental sustainability research.
The competition will generate ideas and pilot solutions that can help The Wonderful Company solve issues across the sustainability spectrum. For more information about the Wonderful Innovation Challenge and to register for the competition, visit www.wonderfulinnovation.com.