From Shortage to abundance – Food waste management as business opportunities.
Kirjoittanut: Sunita Kumar - tiimistä Crevio.
From Shortage to Abundance
Food waste management as business opportunities.
Sunita Kumar Annabell Omorodion , Patrick
BACHELOR’S / MASTER’S THESIS
Entrepreneurship and Team leadership
2.1 Efforts in controlling the food waste (History) 8
2.1.1 The global take on food revolution. 9
2.2 22nd century take on food waste.
2.2.1 Technology that can help.
3 The business opportunities around solutions.
Roughly a third of the world’s food is wasted. That’s about 1.3 billion tons a year.
The world loses an astounding quantity of food every year. It blows your mind but a third of all food for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted. 1.3 billion tons of food suitable for human consumption and 1.6 billion tons of so-called “primary product equivalents” are lost or wasted.Food is lost in every step of the food “life cycle”
- Agricultural production (e.g. fields)
- Postharvest handling and storage
- End of life
In fields food is lost due to crop pests and diseases. Food is also lost because of inefficient harvesting methods, transportation and storage. And food is wasted through the deliberate discarding of food in shops, supermarkets, and households.
The largest source of food waste is in the production phase where over 500 million tons is lost due to things like crop pests and ineffective harvesting and irrigation. This is followed by “postharvest handling and storage” and “consumption” both with around 350 million tons. These three phases account for around 75% of all food waste. But there are potentials for reducing food waste in all six steps!
We throw away food perfectly fit for eat.
Huge amounts of food is also lost simply because we throw it away. 35% of the wasted food is simply thrown out by supermarkets, shops, and households. Much of it is still perfectly fit for eating.
Sustainable development goal on food waste
The UN Sustainable Development targets include the goals by 2030:
Cutting in half global food waste at the retail and consumer levels per capita.
Reducing food loss in production and supply chains.
Sounds good but there’s a problem…
Let’s get a few facts straight on the UN food waste targets:
The retail and consumer levels account for just over a third of all food waste.
The world population will continue to grow and reach 8.6 billion in 2030. That’s around 800 million people more than in 2020.
This means that even if the target of cutting in half waste per capita (of a third of total food waste) total global food waste could still go up. And that’s a problem. (The world counts.)
2 AN ARRAY OF PROBLEMS
- Wasting food while finding ways of feeding a growing population
Food waste is a problem in itself in a world where over 800 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment. All these people could be fed by less than a quarter of the food lost or wasted in the US and Europe.
Over 2 billion people will join our planet between 2020 and 2050. All these people need to eat! We can feed them by increasing food production by 60% – or we could just stop throwing away our food.
Food waste worsens a number of environmental problems
Food production requires energy, pesticides, land and so on. Besides, food production contributes to the emission of greenhouse gasses.
- Food waste and climate change
Every part of the food supply chain releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Energy is used to grow, store, process, transport, and cook the food. In addition, discarded food ending up at landfills also contribute. In addition, meat production (especially beef!) releases huge amounts of methane gas because of farting cows. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas with a 84 times higher global warming potential than CO2 (over a 20 years period).
The global food system accounts for up to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. And food waste is part of this. The carbon footprint of food waste is estimated to be 3.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalents released into the atmosphere a year.
If “Food Waste” were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest emitter of CO2 after China and the US.
– The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)Wasted food puts pressure on water resources too
The loss of food is also problematic considering the water that went into producing the food. Far most of the water used on this planet is used for food production – and wasted food therefore also means wasted water.
250 square kilometers of freshwater is wasted each year to produce food that is lost or wasted. A quarter of the world’s freshwater is used to grow food that will never be eaten.
At the same time, the number of people in severe lack of water is growing by the second. It is expected to reach almost 4 billion people by 2050.Agricultural area used to produce food that is lost or wasted
Around 1.4 billion hectares of agricultural land is used to produce food that is lost or wasted. That’s 28% of the world’s total agricultural area
An area the size of the US, India, and Egypt combined is used to grow food that is never eaten.
Agriculture is the main driver of deforestation in most regions.Meat and food waste
Of course, different types of food have different environmental footprints. Meat is an example of a food product with a very high footprint in terms of energy, freshwater use, and emissions of greenhouse gasses.
It requires more energy to produce meat than any other food. For example, it takes 75 times more energy to produce meat than corn. While it requires an estimated 2-3 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from soybeans or wheat, it takes 54 calories of fuel to produce 1 calorie of protein from meat.
This implies that in reality, even more food is “lost” when fed to farm animals because only a small percentage of the calories in the food fed to animals are transformed into meat.
If everyone had the same diet as the average american (which includes quite a lot of meat) the world could feed just 2.5 billion people – and the world population will approach 10 billion by mid century. (The world counts)
2.1 Efforts in controlling the food waste (History)
Efforts to control food waste have a long history, going back to the days when people first discovered ways to preserve food so that it wouldn’t decay or go to waste. In more recent times, several efforts have been launched to address the problem of food waste at various levels in the food supply chain. In the early 20th century, the focus was on reducing food waste in households.
To help families prepare meals without these former staples, local food boards were established to offer guidance, canning demonstrations and recipes with suitable replacements for the provisions that had become so limited. (Schumm, 2018) Home economists and other experts encouraged families to adopt canning, refrigeration, and other food preservation techniques to help cut down on food waste.
Eat local, meatless Mondays, go wheatless, more fruits and vegetables, less white sugar— many of the things we hear a lot about today Americans did during the First World War. The United States Food Administration, created in 1917 and headed by Herbert Hoover, campaigned to convince Americans to voluntarily change their eating habits in order to have enough food to feed our military and starving civilians in Europe. (The Library Company of Philadelphia, 2016)
During World War I and II, food shortages and patriotic duty drove efforts to conserve food. There were campaigns to reduce food waste to ensure that troops and civilians had enough to eat. People were urged to cultivate their own food and limit their intake of specific foods, and rationing was put into place.
Slogans such as “Food will win the war” compelled people to avoid wasting precious groceries and encouraged them to eat a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables, which were too difficult to transport overseas. (Schumm, 2018) Governments and individuals were encouraged to conserve food and limit waste through posters, advertisements, and educational programs.
In the 1950s and 60s, fast food chains – epitomized by McDonald’s – revolutionized the restaurant industry and changed farming and food distribution businesses. (Ganzel, 2007) In the 1960s and 1970s, the rise of fast food restaurants and supermarkets led to an increase in food waste. Fast food establishments are made to be quick and effective, with an emphasis on delivering meals quickly and affordably. This frequently entails that huge quantities of food are cooked and kept warm in warming trays or under heat lamps, which might result in food waste if the food is not sold within a specified amount of time. In addition, fast food restaurants’ standardized menus and portion sizes might result in food waste if customers do not finish their meals or if extra food is prepared but not consumed.
2.1.1 THE GLOBAL TAKE ON FOOD REVOLUTION
Over 30% of food is lost or wasted each year. This number is even more striking, given the large number of hungry people in the world. Wasted food is not only inefficient, it’s a social justice issue. (Safdie, 2023)
To manage food waste, there are numerous strategies for small businesses, and large companies. Here are some examples:
1. Composting: Food scraps and other organic materials are gathered for this and allowed to rot into nutrient-rich soil.
- Donating: Donating extra food to groups that assist in feeding the hungry is another approach to prevent food waste. This can include food banks, shelters, and other non-profit organizations.
- Recycling: Food waste can be recycled in some cases, such as packaging and containers.
- Anaerobic digestion: A method that, in the absence of oxygen, employs microorganisms to decompose organic waste, such as food scraps. Biogas, a renewable energy source, may be produced because of this procedure.
- Upcycling: Some businesses are coming up with creative methods to turn food waste into new products. For instance, leftover fruit and vegetable peels can be utilized to manufacture food packaging, and coffee grounds can be turned into natural cosmetic products.
Preventing food from going to waste is one of the easiest and most powerful actions you can take to save money and lower your climate change footprint by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and conserving natural resources. (EPA, 2023)
Following are some tips on minimizing food waste for regular people:
– Make a list of the foods you need and stick to it when you go grocery shopping.
– To increase food’s shelf life, store it appropriately.
– You may use up ingredients before they spoil by planning meals in advance.
– For later use, freeze any extra food or leftovers.
– Give extra non-perishable food to food banks or give perishable goods to your neighbors.
– To minimize leftovers, serve portions based on your appetite.
Food waste is a major problem that affects both the environment and the economy. Also, food waste not only wastes the resources used to produce it, but it also emits greenhouse gases when it decomposes in landfills. Moreover, it also means that resources such as water, electricity, and labor used in creating, processing, and delivering the food are being wasted as well.
2.2 22ND CENTURY TAKE ON FOOD WASTE
There is a big shortfall between the amount of food we produce today and the amount needed to feed everyone in 2050. There will be nearly 10 billion people on Earth by 2050—about 3 billion more mouths to feed than there were in 2010. As incomes rise, people will increasingly consume more resource-intensive, animal-based foods. At the same time, we urgently need to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural production and stop conversion of remaining forests to agricultural land. (Ranganathan et al., 2018)
Due to the anticipated rise in world population in the 22nd century, food waste will likely be a much bigger issue than it is today. We must produce, distribute, and consume food in a more integrated and sustainable manner in order to address this problem. Adopting circular food systems, which reduce waste and conserve resources through closed-loop production and consumption models, could be one possible solution. This can entail developing new technology that can recycle trash into useful materials or energy sources as well as more effective use of resources like water, land, and energy. Adopting precision agriculture, which employs data-driven techniques to improve crop yields and reduce waste, could be another possible solution. This might entail using sensors, drones, and other technology to keep an eye on crop development, soil health, and environmental conditions. This would help farmers decide when to sow, water, and harvest crops with more knowledge. Futhermore, food packaging may be created to increase the fresh produce’s shelf life, and smart sensors could track food’s freshness in real-time, allowing customers and businesses to take immediate action to stop spoilage. Lastly, online platforms and apps could be created with the population becoming more tech-savvy to encourage food-sharing and community-based food distribution. As a result, there would be less food waste and more solidified local ties amongst neighbours who might exchange excess food.
Overall, by practicing more attentive consumption practices, such as cooking only what they need and avoiding buying more food than they can eat, consumers can also help reduce food waste.
2.2.1 TECHNOLOGY THAT CAN HELP
Food waste is a global problem. Especially when starvation and hunger is an issue in some part of the world. This chapter will cover innovation tools that might have the potential to reduce the amount of food waste.
Apeel is a company that makes produce to stay longer and fresh. Apeel helps plants resist environmental stress by reducing oxidation and maintaining moisture. There is a peel on every plant on Earth that protects it from the elements. As moisture is kept in by the cuticle layer on the peel, the plant does not dry out. Fresh produce is protected by an edible “peel” which forms on its surface, like a plant’s cuticle. Apeel is composed entirely of purified monoglycerides and diglycerides, edible compounds that can be found in a variety of foods. They are safe to eat as verified by regulatory authorities around the world, including Health Canada, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization. This is a particularly promising technology for farmers in developing countries, where the difficulties in getting them to market before they spoil are the main cause of wastage eating. But even in the western world, if the product delivers as promised, it could significantly reduce food waste in restaurants, supermarkets, and homes.
This is how a strawberry age with and without Apeel coating.
Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce
Like Full Harvest, Hungry Harvest and Imperfect Produce are companies on the front lines of the battle to save “ugly” fruits and vegetables from rotting the fields
Operating in the United States, they take a direct approach to marketing by delivering food boxes of imperfect products to undemanding subscribers. Imper-fect Produce claims to have saved more than 18,000 worth of food and 1.2 billion gallons of water.
Intended for fruit growers, Technologies’ small packets release a chemical called 1-MCP, a plant powerhouse that sends a strong signal to fruit that it’s not yet time to ripen. Producers simply need to toss a Hazel sachet into a box of their fruit. Over a period of three weeks, this sachet releases a safe chemical that slows down the ripening process. Given that approximately 45% of all fruit is wasted, a technology that allows more time for products to reach market could have a huge impact, especially in developing countries.
Too good to go.
restaurants and cafes can use the platform to sell food that is about to be wasted at a reduced price, usually at the end of each day. They can sell their excess stock while attracting new customers to try their food. Hungry and price-conscious consumers can help fight food waste while enjoying delicious food at great prices Launched just three years ago in Copenhagen, has quickly grown to have 7.5 million users in European countries and work with over 15,000 foodies. There is a similar concept in Finland called ResQ
The average household in the UK throws away £700’s a year. The Smarter’s Fridge Cam is designed to be inexpensive to help consumers change their habits permanently and start using what they already have. The wireless camera can be placed inside any refrigerator and takes a photo each time you close the refrigerator door. You can then view content from anywhere a mobile app. This makes it easier for you to plan meals and groceries based on what you have at home. The app also allows you to do shopping inventories and lists, and track dates giving you the knowledge to plan a zero food waste lifestyle.
3 THE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES AROUND SOLUTIONS.
There are several business opportunities that can be created around food waste, including:
- Food waste management and recycling: This involves collecting, processing, and recycling food waste into products such as compost, animal feed, and biofuels. This type of business can be profitable as it provides a valuable service to businesses and individuals while also helping to reduce waste.
- Food rescue and redistribution: This involves collecting unsold or unused food from supermarkets, restaurants, and other food businesses and redistributing it to people in need. This type of business can be both socially and financially rewarding.
- Food waste reduction technologies: This includes the development of new technologies and innovations that can help reduce food waste at various stages of the food supply chain. This can include improved packaging, storage, and transportation methods, as well as new software and apps that help consumers and businesses better manage their food waste.
- Sustainable agriculture and farming: This involves developing sustainable farming practices that can help reduce food waste and improve food security. This can include composting, crop rotation, and the use of organic fertilizers and pest management techniques.
- Upcycling and repurposing: This involves taking food waste and turning it into new and innovative products. For example, some companies are turning food waste into leather, textiles, and even bio-based plastics.
Overall, there are many business opportunities around food waste, and with the increasing demand for sustainable practices and reduced waste, there is a lot of potential for growth and profitability in this area.
Food waste poses a significant problem due to its ethical, environmental, and economic implications. Firstly, it raises ethical concerns, as millions of individuals worldwide suffer from hunger and malnutrition, while a considerable amount of food is wasted daily. Secondly, food waste has negative environmental impacts, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental concerns associated with food production and disposal. Additionally, food waste leads to economic losses for individuals, businesses, and governments. Furthermore, it represents a missed opportunity to use resources efficiently and sustainably, as valuable resources such as land, water, and energy are used to produce and transport food that eventually goes to waste.
In summary, reducing food waste is crucial in addressing global challenges such as food insecurity, environmental sustainability, and economic efficiency. By minimizing food waste, we can enhance food security, conserve natural resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money, and promote more sustainable food systems.
How Apeel Works | Learning From Nature | Apeel