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How Can Technology be Leveraged to Prevent Food Wastage?

While food delivery technology is making the best use of available resource, can it also be leveraged to avoid food wastage?

Why Food Wastage?

Food wastage is rampant is country like India where masses of people sleep hungry on a daily basis while there are thousands who throw away unconsumed food.

According to the CSR Journal, nearly 40% of the food produced in India is wasted. This is a staggering amount of food, equivalent to the food consumed by the United Kingdom. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the estimated cost of the wastage is almost Rs 1 lakh crore annually.

Sources of Food Wastage

  1. The biggest source of food wastage is our everyday meals cooked for the family
  2. Restaurants, Cafes and eateries within corporate premises.
  3. Community functions like weddings, family get-together, corporate and school canteens, etc.
  4. Farmers’ produce due to lack of storage facilities
  5. Uncalled for weather conditions destroying crops

Alarming Statistics

  1. As per 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India ranks 100 out 119 countries – the lower the rank more the number of hungry people in the country
  2. Nearly 20 crore Indians sleep hungry every night
  3. Land degradation is another cause that leads to diminished supply of edible food in the country
  4. Nearly 3000 children in India die every day due to malnutrition

What is Being Done to Curb Food Wastage?

While there are a number of NGOs that are working relentlessly to help the needy get the food that is likely to be wasted from the sources mentioned above, the statistics have not really improved. Some research in this area reveals that there is still a gap between the source of food wastage and the source of hunger. Addressing this gap mitigation not only requires spreading awareness among the masses to help the NGOs working for the cause but also requires intervention of technology to help bridge this gap.

The Zomatos and Swiggys of India

The food and beverage industry had seen a revolution when Zomato and Swiggy started onboarding restaurants and cafes around the country on a single platform. Quickly transforming from an app that hosted reviews of food connoisseurs to a food delivery platform, we have seen the exponential growth of these two giants in the industry.

Zomato recently acquired Feeding India and will continue to help make India hunger-free (through its CSR arm). While this is a humongous task in itself Feeding India has been progressively making strides to curb hunger in the country.

While Swiggy has also brought in environment friendly packaging material to curb plastic waste, it needs to be seen if Swiggy has been really doing something to address food wastage in the country.

Opportunity

We had earlier published a video to address the issue of food wastage at an individual’s capacity. You can view to check 7 ways of avoiding food wastage.

How can, however, technology help in avoiding food wastage?

Leveraging Data

An average Indian wastes 20% of the food items bought from the superstores while most often than not most of the food items are discarded once it expires. Here’s a solution to this problem –

Step 1 – Collaborate with Superstores and Kirana Stores to fetch data for

  • Stock Received
  • Stock Sold
  • Expiry date for all food items
  • Purchase Info – Customer number, items purchased,  Expiry date for items

Step 2 – Send Notifications

  • To customers – informing them of the items that are about to be expired
  • To customers – informing them to donate the items to be expired for immediate consumption by partner NGOs (or in Zomato’s case their CSR leg – Feeding India)
  • To Superstores – informing them of their stock expiry
  • To Superstores – informing them to donate the item at a discounted price and promise 100% sale

Step 3 – Leverage Existing Logistics

  • For already established companies leveraging their current logistics should not be challenge
  • This could seamlessly be combined into existing operations

Others

  • Innovative methods of providing recipes to customers based on their existing soon-to-be expired food items could be suggested
  • On a daily basis, the customer could be provided an option to notify the service providers to collect leftover food

Onboarding the Commoners

With a business model like Tinmen wherein home cooked food is provided to people, a similar approach can be taken to ensure consumption of extra food (potential waste) in household. A network of such ‘certified’ households could be leveraged to provide food to the needy.

Collaboration with existing NGOs by leveraging their channel to serve the needy.

Challenges

Regulatory – How can one ensure food safety? A detailed study will be required to ensure the food thus provided (leftover or close to expiry) is safe for consumption

Logistic – While it is easy to leverage existing logistics for the players in the industry, this could be big challenge for new entrants.

The idea can be developed further to a full-fledged business. Our preliminary analysis shows that the financials could flourish too, if the idea is adopted.

Bottomline

Technology has seen to transform lives around us. We can leverage technology and help create an ecosystem that will help India (and the world likewise) achieve its goal to be hunger-free.

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