Inadequate packaging is responsible for up to 25 percent of household food waste. Some of this waste is due to food spoiling in poorly designed packaging and bulk packaging that does not allow for the timely consumption of fresh foods. Improved packaging stops food waste from occurring in the first place and can provide economic and environmental benefits.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is fundraising for a Food Packaging Prize to accelerate the next generation of sustainable packaging materials and technologies that reduce food waste and increase food availability. FFAR’s public-private partnership model matches every federal dollar with a private dollar. FFAR has committed $3 million to this initiative and will launch the prize when matching funds are secured.

Food Packaging Prize will identify and accelerate the most promising packaging solutions related to food waste to:

Replace current packaging, including polystyrene foam trays, plastic clamshells, freezer wrap with sustainable options that increase food safety and quality.
Reduce food and packaging waste.
Increase knowledge of food waste reduction and packaging material sustainability to reduce costs and environmental impacts across the food system.
Develop consumer loyalty for quality products that are sustainably packaged.

The Prize supports scientific breakthroughs that provide practical solutions for the food industry and retailers.

To becoming a funding partner, please contact

Kashyap Choksi

Director of Scientific Partnerships

For programmatic questions, please contact

Lucyna Kurtyka

Senior Scientific Program Director


The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation
is a founding member of the Executive Committee



A total of $4 million will be awarded to the firm, group or individual who successfully develops packaging materials and/or technology that meets the highest sustainability, food safety and food quality criteria, as determined by program partners. The Prize will be awarded in two phases:

Phase I, Seed Funding, will award up to $300,000 each in research awards to the 4-5 applicants with the most promising research proposal(s)

Phase II, Prize Money, will award $4 million to the proposal that meets the criteria outlined by program partners. 

Any US or international public or private institution, consortium, non-profit organization, for-profit company, tribal government entity or any combination of the above who has an existing, clear proof of concept is eligible to apply.

FFAR has already committed $3 million to the Food Packaging Prize. The Foundation invites food producers and processors, distributors, retailers, food companies, foundations and other capital providers to provide at least $3 million in matching funds. Funding commitments will be sought before officially launching the Prize.


Packaging’s purpose is to protect and extend the life of food, making sure it arrives to stores and homes fresh and intact. When packaging fails, two sources of waste are created – the food and the packaging.

Packaging, particularly plastic packaging, is receiving increased attention due to waste management concerns. According to the World Economic Forum report, packaging represents 26 percent of the total volume of all plastics produced, and this packaging is almost exclusively single-use. The 2016 estimates show that 95 percent of plastic packaging material value, about $80 billion–$120 billion annually, was lost to the economy after the first use, and only 14 percent of plastic packaging was collected for recycling. The remaining amount ended up polluting land and seas.

In addition to the packaging waste, food waste is single largest component of disposed municipal solid waste in the US, according to the US Department of Agriculture. This food waste then emits methane. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that landfills are responsible for 20 percent of total US methane emissions. Reducing food waste will reduce methane emissions and mitigate climate change.

Over 290 companies have committed improving the recyclability, reusability and compostability of plastic packaging. Two-thirds of food businesses are also committing to halving food waste by 2030. Given the complex interconnection between packaging and food waste, and the pressing need to reduce the environmental impacts of both, this Prize aims to address both challenges through a single initiative.

Program Partners

This initiative requires coordinated efforts and collaboration among leading packaging experts, researchers, food producers, food processors, distributors, retailers, manufacturers, funders, NGOs and other key stakeholders. The following roles will be filled in the upcoming months:

Executive Committee – Funding partners who determine the Prize criteria, review technical evaluations and select proposals for Phases I and II.

Advisory Committee – Advises the Executive Committee on the Prize criteria, provides technical evaluations and participates in proposal discussions. Consists of packaging experts representing food producers, food processors, food manufacturers, distributors, food retail businesses, academia, government and professional organizations.

Pilot Partners – Food businesses willing to participate in pilots with Seed Funding recipients following the announcement of research awards. Consists of grocery retailers with private label line, manufacturers with branded lines, packaging suppliers, food processing facilities, etc. Scope of each pilot will be determined by each food business.

FFAR is seeking organizations to join the Executive Committee and the Advisory Committee, as well as pilot partners.


FFAR anticipates publicly launching the Prize in 2020, provided that matching funding is secured.


FFAR doubles all partner contributions, up to a total of $3 million, and de-risks individual investments by dividing overall Prize amount among several partners.

Direct input on determining the scope of the Prize, shaping evaluation criteria and determining Prize winner(s).

Exclusive access to research results from Seed Funding and Prize awardees.

Recognition for corporate social responsibility benefiting brand image and credibility.

First-mover advantage and increased consumer loyalty for providing higher quality products that meet highest sustainability criteria.

Contributing to your business’ sustainability goals ahead of emerging policy regulations and growing consumer awareness and gaining wide media attention and coverage.

Your contribution may be tax deductible.

Overcoming Water Scarcity

Overcoming Water Scarcity


Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area addressed water use efficiency in agriculture by developing water conservation and reuse technologies, improving crop and livestock breeds, creating improved agronomic practices, increasing the social and economic tractability of conservation practices and enhancing the efficacy of Extension services.

FFAR’s Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area builds on earlier work to increase water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reduces agricultural water pollution and develops water reuse technologies.

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms


FFAR’s 2016-2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area increased soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or new innovative practices that improve soil health.

The Soil Health Challenge Area advances existing research and identifies linkages between farm productivity and soil health, while also addressing barriers to the adoption of soil health practices.

Protein Challenge

Protein Challenge


FFAR’s 2016-2018 Protein Challenge Area sought to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of diverse proteins.

The Advance Animal Systems challenge area supports sustainable animal production through environmentally sound productions practices and advancement in animal health and welfare. Additionally, the Next Generation Crops Challenge Area develops non-traditional crops, including plant-based proteins, and creates new economic opportunities for conventional crops to increase future crop diversity and farm profitability.

Food Waste and Loss

Food Waste and Loss


About 40 percent of food in the US, or $161 billion each year, is lost or wasted. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Food and Waste Loss Challenge Area addressed the social, economic and environmental impacts from food waste and loss through research that developed of novel uses for agricultural waste, improved storage and distribution, supported tracking and monitoring, minimized spoilage through pre- and post-harvest innovations and changed behaviors to reduce food waste

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area addresses food waste and loss and supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.

Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability


Supporting innovation is necessary for sustainable results. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to agricultural innovations. Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability was a 2016-2018 Challenge Area that focused on understanding the barriers and processes that prevented the adoption of technology and research results into sustainable practices.

Urban Food Systems

Urban Food Systems


The 2016-2018 Urban Food Systems Challenge Area addressed feeding urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture and augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.

The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area continues this work and enhances our ability to feed urban populations.

Making My Plate Your Plate


FFAR’s 2016-2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area focused on helping Americans meet the USDA 2015 Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, including research to both produce and provide access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.