According to shocking statistics made available by Food and Agriculture Organisation, every year around 1.7 billion tonnes, or almost one third of food produced for human consumption, is lost or wasted globally. Further, the associated economic, environmental and social costs of this loss are around $1 trillion, $700 billion and $900 billion per year respectively. In India alone, the value of food wastage is estimated to be around Rs 92,000 crore per annum at 2014 wholesale prices.

Unfortunately, all these numbers are exponentially increasing rather than going the other way around. Hence, it is obvious that the all the current methods being employed to curb the problem aren't working out the way the humanity predicted and there's a need for new and better ways. This is where IoT steps in.

Yes, the Internet of Things in addition to all the things that it does, can also help the mankind significantly reduce wastage of food.

The temperature of produce is crucial for its shelf-life. Not only does the wrong temperature make for a lot of percentage of food wastage, but it also makes it difficult for the consumers to trust the used by date written on the produce. And since, food produce travels around the world, this problem arises more often than we would want.

In order to solve this problem, Switzerland’s Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology has devised an interesting approach. They have developed a sensor in the shape of a piece of fruit so that it can travel alongside real fruit and gather information on the conditions present in the crate or pallet in which the produce is travelling from point A to point B.

The fruit shaped sensor has been meticulously designed to simulate the real fruit not only in its size but also its composition. The data emitted by the sensor can then be analysed to understand the temperature of the crate during the produce transportation.

The Switzerland-based lab was able to receive the accurate representation of each fruit by X-raying the produce, with an algorithm then used to create the average shape and texture of that of a fruit. After this, the researchers determined the composition of the fruit’s flesh and simulated it in the lab. The next step involves sending it to a 3D printer, where a mold is created which has sensors inside to record the data.

Although the invention is quite innovative, its price point of around £40 might prove to be too pricey. Also, the real-time analysis of the produce is currently not possible with the technology.

Another firm that is focused towards really solving the world's food wastage problem is, California based Zest Labs. According to their website, they provide an end-to-end solution for managing freshness of produce, using automated data capture and Cloud-based, real-time analytics to enable workers to make the best decisions.

Their technology, which monitors the produce at the pallet level, and provides real-time feedback, has already allowed retailers to save almost 18% of produce that previously went to waste. For example, if the technology detects that the produce is ageing more quickly than anticipated, it can be routed to a closer store so that it can have its decent shelf-life.

So, it is time the food sector starts embracing the power of IoT and use it solve the problem of food wastage.

[Top Image: yostartups]

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