Food powder made from expired produce may help end world hunger

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The global amount of food wasted each year is an estimated 1.76 billion tons — that's $750 billion in terms of economic loss, according to the United Nations.

Food powder made from expired produce may help end world hunger

The two most common reasons for such extensive food waste relate to mindless consumption: We buy or prepare more than we need, or we just don't use food before it goes bad.

In response to this vicious cycle, a group of international masters students created FoPo Food Powder. The company collects cheap and near-expired produce and spray dries it into a powder to extend its shelf life for two years. They call it "taking dumpster diving to the next level."

FoPo Food Powder's goal is to become a vital component in ending world hunger.

The idea struck Kent Ngo from Sweden who studies mechanical engineering, and food innovation and product design students Gerald Marin and Vita Jarolimkova, in December 2014. Other food innovation classmates Lizzie Cabisidan and Ada Bałazy joined the humanitarian effort.

"[We are] not into using a new product or new technology, [but] creating value out of the inefficiency of the food system," Marin told Mashable. "The innovation of our business is that we are getting the expired fruits and vegetables."

The powder has three flavors: banana, raspberry and mango — but soon pineapple. It will retain about 30-80% of its nutritional value, according to the company, and can be sprinkled atop yogurt or ice cream, used in baking or blended into smoothies.

Dried food can be traced back to 1200 A.D. with the Incas, but didn't really take off until the 1970s, according to Mother Jones. Think space food and evaporated milk.

While you can technically dry anything, the outcome may not be worth it, though, according to Jarolimkova.

FoPo has been successful in a slew of startup summits and challenges, such as winning the Ben & Jerry's Join Our Core crowdfunding for social change movement and placing runner-up for the Thought For Food Summit. FoPo is a current finalist for MassChallenge, which claims to be the largest startup accelerator.

FoPo's Kickstarter campaign earned almost kr40,000 over its goal (roughly $25,857). Backers who donated $11.85 will receive 20g of FoPo Food Powder in October 2015.

With support from the Philippine government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the team is amidst a pilot run in the natural disaster-ridden Philippines, where local farms are donating surplus pineapples and mangoes for a trial batch.

Funds from the campaign will help the team find the right manufacturer, and acquire legal advice and safety testing.

Once the team gets the minimum viable product established, they plan to sell back to grocery stores, online and through big food manufacturers (to incorporate it into products like fruit juice) before selling to NGOs at a lower production price.

Nutritionist Susan Tucker of Green Beat Life finds freeze-dried food to be great in situations such as camping, travel adventures and during famine or disasters. But she recommends people to get into the basics of understanding the natural shelf life of produce. Hopefully this product gets us another step.

Fuente: mashable.com
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