Global hunger is not due to lack of food .There is sufficient food to feed every person worldwide.Unfortunately ,one third of food produced globally is wasted; that is 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is never eaten.
Food waste has become a bigger problem leading to enormous financial, ethical and environmental cost, which is now a Global Issue. More the food is wasted , the more food we need to produce. Food loss and wastage represent wastage of water, energy, land and other resources which are used to produce food.
When we throw our food into the bin we don’t realise the harmful greenhouse gases it is going to release in the landfill. This problem of food loss due to inefficiency has demanded more attention from global food suppliers with the World Food Programme reporting more than 820 million hungry people around the world.
An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally each year, one third of all food produced for human consumption, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The net food losses in developed countries equals to all of the food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa yearly. Food loss is the decrease in the quality and quantity of the food resulting from actions by food suppliers in the supply chain and is mainly caused by the malfunctioning of food production and supply system . Food waste is the decrease in the quality and quantity of the food resulting from actions and decisions by retailers and consumers.
For years the supply chain operation has resulted in miscommunication between the actors involved in the process leading to food wastage or spoilage. Large amounts of food has been wasted across the world due to inconsistencies within the supply chain as the inventories are not recorded , not sufficient information provided to the suppliers or the quality not taken into consideration.
Stages of Food Loss and Waste
There are notable differences in the patterns of food losses and waste depending on income levels.
In the developed countries it usually occurs during the distribution and consumption stage whereas in the middle and low income countries it occurs during the production and post harvest stage due to poor storage facilities or poor infrastructure transportation.
In high income countries 1/3rd of the edible food is wasted willingly compared to the low income countries where there are severely hungry people where the 40% of food loss is due to unavoidable conditions(Extreme climatic conditions) or forces beyond their control.
Agricultural stage : The food loss and waste in low income countries is generally higher as compared to the medium or high income countries because the technology and the infrastructure for harvesting adopted in the high income countries are more advanced . At this stage the farmers, due to lack of technology are unaware of the climatic conditions or even unsure about the quantity of the product demanded by vendors.
Post harvest stage : The food loss and waste usually occurs here during food distribution, handling and storage mainly due to poor cooling/storing systems . The fresh food products dominate in the retailing sector because of factors like expired shelf dates, over-stalking , product damage and quality issues.
Consumer/Restaurant stage : These wastage are usually at the highest in the medium/high income countries and occurs mainly due to excessive cooking,over stalking , not checking the expiry dates. Consumers may purchase certain products in bulk which are discounted overlooking the type of food or the date of expiry leading to spoilage of food which is further thrown away.
Tons of food have been wasted yearly because the growers lacked an adequate mechanism to communicate with the packaging facilities resulting in mishandling of these food products while transporting them.
At field level the common food loss is due to the climatic condition or disease or even due to lack of communication e.g. Whether the crop is behind or ahead of the schedule. More losses occur at the grading stage with the crop being out of specification (size/quality/appearance).
The other losses are comparatively low which usually occur at the retailer end due to over-staking or poor demand of the particular food.
Causes(Food loss/ waste)
- Absence of investment due to the overall unfavorable climate and difficulty of doing business compounded by discouragingly high interest rates
- Farmers still using the traditional practices leading to delays caused by poor management along with the lack of information on optimal varieties demanded by retailers
- Fragmented nature of food production caused by the breakup of collective farms; value chain and supply logistics considered as less important.
- Demand for good quality causing sorting out after the harvest and processing; oversupply and low cost encourages consumers to buy excessive amounts of food
- Complicated regulation would result in confusion among private sector food chain actors, and a failure of practice with regulation.
- decrease the food availability in the market
- increase food prices
- reduce the access of food to low income consumers
- quality deteriorates badly
- farmers affected adversely
- amount of food thrown away
Solution to overcome some of these issues which can prevent food waste/loss
With our digital platform which tracks the lifecycle of a product “farm to fork” we are able to track metrics about the following.
- Production : Matching supply and demand by monitoring quality and time of produce.
- Harvest : Iot based solutions such as monitoring climatic conditions such as temperature, water and timeline,
- Distribution & Consumption : Realtime tracking of product, time distribution and consumption pattern (quantity,location and validity).
Our platform provides transparency and accountability in the supply chain leading to higher accuracy and reliability through metrics. ProdTrack serves suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers to increase visibility within the food supply chain as well as having some direct applications which addresses major causes of farm level waste.
For example when an outbreak occurs (people falling sick after consuming a certain product) it’s usually time consuming and difficult to track and investigate the origin/source of the commodity which is contaminated.
ProdTrack Platform can be utilised as a solution to easily track food products, locate the historical information and its origin. It further offers great transparency for food safety which helps in identifying the origin of production and destination of consumption to recall a product .
The immutable database stores the ownership, provenance and finality information making it easy to identify actors/individuals or organisations throughout the product life cycle (including reverse logistics).
Some characteristics are illustrated in the Figure 1.2
- Each transaction is authenticated and validated using signatures which are based on cryptographic transactions, making it impossible for the hackers to hack codes.
- The decentralised approach makes it more transparent and reliable for transferring or storing data.
- Every transaction is validated using a timestamp which helps trace all previous records by accessing any network node.
- No records can be altered without the consensus of the actors involved in the process making the transactions more reliable.
- There is no central identity which means every actor involved in the process interacts with a generated address.
- Being a shared database, the details of every transaction are visible to all nodes(actors) so the network is transparent.
- No point of failure , making data accessible to every actors even of one actor leaves the network.
- Records are immutable and will be stored and saved in the database for an unlimited period.
Farmers need to dedicate a lot of time in-order to sustain the quality of the crop/food which are in their care. By using our platform the farmer knows with whom the supplier is collaborated with. The farmers can post information, new blocks consisting of the pesticides or medicine used to grow the crop along with location.
The platform is also accessible by mobile. The platform makes it possible to identify the farm from where the crops or cow milk was used in the production as well as the insecticide/pesticide, medical treatments or food rations that were used inside the farm. Using the Iot tags helps tracking the entire path of the raw material.
QR code is then printed on the packaging. This QR code contains all the information issued by the Iot tags along with all the other information enriched by all the participants in the supply chain. This data cannot be modified and continues to be placed in blocks until the product reaches the store.
Consumers scan the QR code on the packaging(cheese/bread) to get all the information about the product stored in the blockchain blocks. Receives all the information about the cow milk used to process cheese/the cereals used to process bread.
The technology also benefits many different industries that need to store huge amounts of data, especially in the food industry.
ProdTrack with its Blockchain technology can restructure many existing processes from tracing not only the origin of the products but also trace the food products which are lost or wasted during an activity inorder to process them further.
The direct impact of applying blockchain in this domain is to ensure proper management and processing with the aim to end food wastage and loss.