How Agricycle Global is Reducing Food Waste and Empowering Local Communities

by Andrew Hoeft | Mar 19, 2020 12:00:00 AM

In 2015, college student Josh Shefner attended a school trip to Jamaica’s Blue Mountains to construct a fruit dehydrator for the local population. Now in 2020, Shefner is the Founder and CEO of Agricycle Global Inc., a vertically-integrated supply chain with three internal brands aimed at eliminating extreme rural poverty by reducing food loss and empowering rural women. 

Shefner’s first trip to Jamaica back in 2015 was led with high hopes and good intentions; constructing the fruit dehydrator would stimulate the local economy and also provide jobs for community members. However, the dried fruits struggled to sell in local markets and the farmers lacked the resources to export, brand, market and sell internationally. 

The concept soon evolved to address a more prescient problem: global economic opportunity.This catalyst led to Josh fighting with the global community gap for years to transform a school project into Agricycle Global Inc., empowering thousands of locals along the way. 

As a vertically integrated portfolio of ethically sourced and upcycled CPG brands, Agricycle manufactures and sells food-grade, zero-electricity passive solar dehydrators to preserve natural fruit abundances from remote communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin American and the Caribbean.

Agricycle was first supported by accelerators like gener8tor and Target Incubator, and now has sales across the United States through ecommerce websites like and in retail stores.

Since its founding, 35,000 farmers have been added to Agricycle’s global network of 7 countries, and over 3,000 empowered women-led cooperative members lead initiatives alongside the 21 Agricycle corporate team members around the world. The women who work in the Agricycle cooperatives make around $15 per day, up to 7x more than the average daily wage. 

Agricycle consists of three brands: The Jali Fruit Co., Tropicoal Ignition and What the Fruit

The Jali Fruit Co.:

Jali Fruit Co. sells high-quality, premium products from around the world through directly trading with smallholder farmers. By working directly with farmers, they cut out the middleman and make sure every batch of dried fruit is ethically-sourced with quality top of mind.

The average local daily wage in most of our cooperatives is $2/day. Jali ensures that their farmers make $15/day that goes directly to their own bank accounts, allowing them economic freedom to improve their overall livelihood. Additionally, Agricycle and Jali ensure that their farmers not only create bank accounts, but also establish a credit history.

Jali partners with nonprofits and local governments to provide additional training to the cooperative members in farming and agriculture. Learning food-safe manufacturing, market practices and financial literacy builds transferable skills for future employment.

Tropicoal Ignition:

Tropicoal Ignition provides better-for-everyone charcoal made using 100% coconut and palm from West Africa. 

Instead of slashing and burning trees, Tropicoal uses the shells of fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste. They then take the shells and mix it with cassava starch (another wasted byproduct) to transform these valueless waste products into premium charcoal briquettes.

Tropicoal burns hotter and lasts longer than traditional wood charcoal, saving the environment and your wallet.

What the Fruit?!:

Flour doesn’t have to only come from wheat. Made from 100% fruit, What the Fruit flour is gluten free, nutrient dense and has a low glycemic index.

Breadfruit has been cultivated by people of the Pacific Islands for thousands of years as a dietary stable. Not only is it gluten free and incredibly nutrient dense, it is high in vitamin C, fiber, iron and potassium. It contains pro-vitamin A carotenoids, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and other vitamins.

What the Fruit sources their flour from Jamaica through their ethical supply chain. Cooperatives of women are employed to harvest, process, and package the fruits into flour.


You can stay up to date with Agricycle Global Inc. brands by following their LinkedIn page here.

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