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How Apps Can Make Money and Reduce Food Waste

24 March, 2017 | Article Source: Rob LaPointe  |   (No Comments) | 17,876 Views

How Apps can Make Money and Reduce Food Waste

World hunger is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the want or scarcity of food in a country.” Around the world, roughly 795 million people suffer from chronic undernourishment (constant food scarcity. That’s about 11% of the global population. Out of that 795 million people, 780 live in developing nations and regions.

 

In 2011, it is estimated that 45% of all child deaths were direct result of malnutrition and food scarcity. In developing nations, it is estimated that 50% of pregnant women, along with nearly as many children under 5 were anemic (iron deficiency is a common side effect of malnutrition). Worse, anemia is kills 1 in 5 pregnant women (see all resources here).

 

This doesn’t need to be the case. We’ve been doing a good job since 1990, when global hunger was nearly twice what is today, but we’re still not doing great. The sad fact about this whole situation is that there is currently enough food produced annually to feed every person in the world the daily requirement.

 

The biggest impediment to achieving elimination of World Hunger is poverty. Simply put, much of the world’s poorest people do not have the capital to purchase enough food, nor the land or supplies to create their own food. So the key to solving the world’s hunger crisis is either lowering the cost of food or raising the purchasing power of the lower classes (or both).

 

As a development company, we’re obviously tech evangelists; that is we believe in the ability of technology to solve any number of problems, from improving health systems to alleviating world hunger. But we’re also used to approaching things from the perspective of the entrepreneur. In other words, the world comes down to problems, and solutions.

 

The problem is that over a 10th of our world is starving. The problem is that every year, an entire third of all food produced gets wasted. That’s 1.3 billion metric tonnes of fully edible food, just tossed into the garbage. This wastage affects everything, including leading to a third of the planet’s arable land basically producing garbage.

 

The solution is modern technologies innovatively applied to solve the problem. Software coding, combined with the world wide web has disrupted old systems across the board. These same technologies can be applied to food waste. An excellent example of a business-side solution that is mutually beneficial to all stakeholders is Chowberry.

 

Chowberry, The Mobile App that’s Trying to Save the World

 

Chowberry is a two part solution involving both a website and (more prominently) a mobile app. Both involve selling food that is close expiring. Essentially, a partner retailer downloads the retail Chowberry app; the app uses information pulled from barcode scanners to let retailers know when the food is close to expiring. This information gets fed both into a mobile interface for the retailers, and the Chowberry website.

 

The Chowberry app will send a notification directly to the retailer when a product is close to expiring. The retailer can then either offer the food at a discount to low-income people, or go directly to a third party that specializes in such products.

 

The website takes the same information and offers it directly to the consumer. A consumer searches for food, sees the options locally, and selects the desired product. Chowberry then notifies the retailer, who sets the item aside for the consumer to come pick up.

 

Oscar Ekponimo, the software developer behind Chowberry, grew up knowing hunger. Mr. Ekponimo took what is a relatively simple and standard eCommerce solution and applied it to a situation he knew intimately. The result was an innovative solution that with just a pilot program, it helped 150 children in need. While this is just a small chunk of the problem, Chowberry demonstrates the power of apps, websites, and software to change the world.

 

The biggest downside to Chowberry is that it’s currently only available in Nigeria. But the genius behind this idea is that it’s attractive to literally all stakeholders. Look – Food waste and loss represent nearly a trillion dollars (US). That’s a trillion bucks that we’re basically lighting on fire. So food loss can not only be framed as a humanitarian issue, but also as a strictly economic issue.

 

For retailers, solutions like Chowberry mean that food once represented a financial loss can be turned into a profit (one that makes you feel good too). For Consumers, it means more food, for a lower cost. For Chowberry, it means making a living and giving back at the same time. A win-win situation!

 

The solution doesn’t have to be limited to a retail solution though. Machine learning can be used to optimize transportation methods or routes and AI can be used to predict what crops should be grown when and where. Heck, we can even write code that can help predict what areas may encounter an emergency food shortage (i.e. tracking weather to better anticipate severe events).

 

The point here is that Tech doesn’t have to be just about making a profit. Technology gives people tools to change the world in new and exceptionally effective ways. Got an idea? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 (or click to contact us).

 

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