According to the World Food Program (via KPMG), 821 million people — nearly 1 in 9 on the planet — go to bed on an empty stomach. At the same time, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reports that around 14% of the world’s food is lost before reaching the retail level — this can happen in on-farm activities, storage and transportation.
So, on one hand we have nearly a billion people who are hungry, and on the other we have mountains of perfectly decent food that gets ruined or discarded. And in the middle of these two poles, we have a simple, easily accessed technology that innovators can use to build a bridge between them. That technology is blockchain.
The End Of Inefficiency
In the industrialized world, food follows a complicated supply chain from harvest, slaughter or catch until it reaches the market and our plates. Food loss occurs anytime that food is discarded, disposed of or ruined as it makes its way along this chain. The key issue at hand is that global food loss does not occur because of deficiency in supply. Many say that the Earth produces more than enough food to feed all of its inhabitants. I believe food loss occurs because of inefficiency.
Much has been written about the endemic inefficiencies and opacity of the global food value chain. And these are not just stumbling blocks to alleviating world hunger. They can also exacerbate agriculture’s unnecessarily high carbon footprint and massive water usage. And they may also increase the frequency of contamination that causes food-borne disease and expensive product recalls.
Despite this, food loss due to inefficiency has garnered relatively little attention. According to one paper, 95% of agricultural research over the past 30 years has been focused on raising productivity, and only 5% has been dedicated to reducing losses.
In an age of increasing transparency in business, government and society, one has to wonder: Why is the food-value chain still so opaque? Why is there so…