Food industry needs technology too

FOOD WASTAGE IS A GLOBAL CONCERN. SOME APP DEVELOPERS ARE MAKING EFFORTS TO PROVIDE SOLUTION TO THE HUGE PROBLEM.

 Samsung food fight commercial / Photo via youtube 

Samsung food fight commercial / Photo via youtube 

Food wastage is a world issue and Nigeria is feeling the weight of this issue till today. With imminent food shortage and news of possible famine starting from the northern part of the country, prices of food around the country has doubled and agricultural experts are pointing to wastage as one of the major root causes of this.

Globally, the food and beverage industry seems to be left behind in terms of availability of tech disruptive solutions like education, entertainment , fashion industries. According to the Sales Manager, North West & Central Africa Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Danfoss, Youssef Zitouni, Nigeria’s food waste has hit $750 billion yearly. In his statement he highlighted that “80% of food produced in Nigeria go to waste.”

A recent study by IGD, a research charity in UK which focuses on retail and food industry issues, has found that consumers are interested in new solutions. According to the study, over 20% of consumers are would like technology to help tackle food wastage.

However, some of such apps already exist, with most focusing on meal inspiration and planning to avoid waste. Direct tackling of food waste remains a more difficult area. Currently, a range of apps exist but are largely restricted by area and market. One good and successful example is FoodCloud, an Irish Charity connecting producers and supermarkets with charities that redistribute unused food. Rarer are apps  aiding consumers themselves. One good example of such rare app is the Dutch based app NoFoodWasted which alerts shoppers of soon-to-be-expire and discounted food items in supermarkets. Today the app has an average of 20,000 users daily. Users can also upload their shopping list and receive alerts when relevant ingredients come online.

 Salt and Straw Sample / Photo via fastcompany 

Salt and Straw Sample / Photo via fastcompany 

In the same vein, a popular Portland-based ice cream parlour Salt and Straw, famous for its decadent and often bold adventurous flavors like Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake is drawing attention to food wastage in their recent campaign where they are offering customers new special ice cream options made from ingredients that would have been thrown away. For example, in the special batches, the Spiced Rum and Apple Butter flavour will be made from bruised apples and rum-soaked spices rescued from Portland’s East Side Distillery. The new menu which is estimated to save around 2,000 pounds of food is more or less a tiny drop compared to the gross wastage in the country, but the co-founders are focusing more on the educational aspect of the project; trying to raise awareness about the potential of tapping into the food waste, as a viable business opportunity.

 Tomatoes on display in a Nigerian Market / Photo via agricnation.com

Tomatoes on display in a Nigerian Market / Photo via agricnation.com

Though the Nigerian tech industry is flourishing, we need to see more local, relevant solutions tackling real Nigeria issues like how BudgIT is tackling corruption and transparency in governance. More solutions are needed in the areas of security, food distribution, pollution etc.