Tackling worldwide food waste and deficiencies with cutting edge technology

October 14 2016

One-third of the world’s food is being wasted; that’s equivalent to one trillion dollars – it’s as huge as the Brazilian economy. To understand this problem even deeper a young team of entrepreneurs went to an importer in Germany to learn that they are throwing 27 tons of Bananas every week –  just because they turned yellow during shipping which is already considered ripe and not fit for distribution. Retailers and also farms are throwing away tons and tons of fruits and vegetables because they are spoiled or they look ugly and this means massive disposal costs for companies as well as an enormous environmental impact on the world.

This very team of entrepreneurs, a food startup named FoPo Food Powder is currently being accelerated at Kickstart Accelerator in Zurich, Switzerland. It’s  Europe’s largest multi­-corporate technology accelerators and the home to 30 international startups, which have been chosen from 850 applicants and are now based in Zurich until November for the 11-week accelerator program.

FoPo Food Powder aims to solve food waste and malnutrition by saving food from being wasted. They collect fruits & vegetables from farms, groceries, and importers, dry them through spray or freeze drying and pulverize them. Like this, they can extend its shelf life from 2 weeks to 2 years. This process also maximizes logistics for transportation and saves nutrition by up to 90%. FoPo Food Powder can then be used as an ingredient for baking, flavoring, drinks, as well as for humanitarian aid purposes as it is easy-to-use and easy-to-deliver.

FoPo Food Powder and the other startups from the Kickstart Accelerator’s Food Vertical are strongly supported by the sound practical and scientific competence of local universities and food innovation leaders in Switzerland. The ETH in Zurich with its renowned World Food System Center is supporting the program with its research facilities, while major Swiss food retailers such as Migros, Coop and multinational food and beverage companies are providing cutting-edge technology, infrastructure and mentors to the startups to accelerate all these promising business ideas.

Another cutting edge technology is coming from EntoCube, another startup at the Kickstart Accelerator. EntoCube is fixing the broken food system with insect farming technologies. Their microclimate control system ensures rapid growth and higher yields, while automation reduces labor costs and fluctuations in production. With these technologies, the environmental and culinary benefits of insects can be harnessed by the masses, which is more and more becoming necessary!

With the Earth’s population estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050, there is an urgent need for new sustainable sources for food. For both, Coop and Migros, sustainability has long been an integral component of their strategy as well as taking into account the economical, social and ecological objectives.

While resources like arable land and fresh water are growing increasingly scarce, there is an urgent need for more efficient food sources to be discovered and exploited. The world’s eyes have already turned to a group of edible insects as a very sustainable food source: they are efficient to produce, environmentally friendly and highly nutritive human food. Over two billion people already eat insects and this number is on a trajectory to grow further as insect are popularized in the developed world.

Well, both City and Canton of Zurich, Switzerland have recognized the potential of the Kickstart Accelerator and its Food Vertical and are thus, together with the preeminent economic umbrella organisation Economiesuisse, facilitating a fruitful exchange between the startups and the Swiss ecosystem.