Once in a while a story about something innovative comes along that really sticks with you. You cannot really stop thinking about the cleverly simple solution somebody presented to a big problem. Today we want to highlight a venture we think fit this description. We stumbled upon this initiative quite many months ago, but since then it has unfortunately been a bit quite around these talented young people (even though they have won several entrepreneurial competitions lately). We at least hope that this short article will illuminate the brilliance of their simple but brilliant idea and inspire more budding entrepreneurs of seeking fortune in the places you might expect it the least. Let us contribute to inspire this kind of thinking by giving the example company some well deserved promotion.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food is wasted every single year. Accordingly, the carbon footprint equivalent of this massive amount of disposed food is estimated to 3.3 billion tonnes per year. The food wastage, excluding fish and seafood, adds up to a staggering economic evaporation of $750 billion annually. Also, to produce food requires great amounts of input. The enormous amount of food wasted each year means that a grand part of the resources used to farm the edible good is, well, wasted for nothing more than steaming landfills and more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. All initiatives targeting the problem of wasted food (and wasted resources in general) are worth honoring, so let us turn our gaze towards an interesting and innovative approach trying to remedy this global issue.
The Swedish startup FoPo Food Powder wants to make an impact on the percentage of food wasted globally, as they go after an efficient approach to turn fruits and vegetables into nutritious powder. Could this work conceptually? Well, people all around the world use protein powder from very doubtful origins every day, so why not provide something comparable in the lines of everyday food. Of course the FoPo Food Powder might not be as optimized in terms of muscle growth stimulation after the gym, but still the startup behind it has other (and in the big perspective more important) markets and purposes to cater to than wannabe athletes and their presumable needs. The aim of the company is rather to be mentioned as a classic hard to achieve cliche. Is it peace on earth? No, but to end world hunger. The peculiar thing in this case, is that the approach is one of the few we have come across that, at least in theory, actually sound like it could make an impact in this perspective.
By turning fruits and vegetables into powder, the company prolongs the expiration time of produce from two weeks up to two years. After the process of turning the greens into powder, up to 95% of the nutrition and vitamins are still preserved in the final product. How is this done? Well, the startup collects near-expired fruit and vegetables and freezes it into the powder. As the produce freeze, the inherent water particles of the green goods turn to ice. By then lowering the pressure the ice turns into gas and separates from the powder. With the water gone, the expiration date is extended multiple times. Simple, clever, efficient like that. Thus, the idea has nothing to with producing more food but to use the food already produced in a more extensive way, with less waste and down-the-drain resources as the desired outcome. The thought that acts as a foundation for the clever business model is to use cheap, or even free, close-to-expiration (or in some countries just ‘aesthetically unappealing’) fruits and vegetables from farms and supermarkets as input.
By collecting produce that cannot be sold, the company can produce a great nutrition-to-money ration. For instance, the equivalent of bananas in powder form costs one fifth of the market price per weight unit. The powder can furthermore be compressed, which of course speaks for maximized logistical possibilities. The main benefit of the solution is to provide nutrition for the world’s less fortunate as well as providing an important role as relief in the case of various disaster scenarios. As admirable as this is, there is a variety of other areas where FoPo could play an interesting part. These areas stretches from military needs, to space missions, to everyday usage in various recipes for smoothies, baking and flavoring. The most important aspect though, is that the food is not wasted, but consumed. We conclude that initiatives like FoPo cannot be too numerous and conceptually might play a paramount part in maximizing the use of all the input invested in feeding our planet, making the world a little more sustainable.