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When avoiding waste becomes a business proposition

Economy / -

Food Waste
© 68/George Doyle/Ocean/Corbis

The examples of Berkeley Bowl in California, of US chain, Stop and Shop, and of Granel in Spain. They have transformed the problem of waste into income-generating businesses.

Food waste has a significant economic impact in the private sector. Supermarket chains, grocery stores, processing industries have to deal with sell-by dates, wasting food and unsold produce. Several companies have identified the problem and have tried some solutions.
Berkeley Bowl, California, selling food close to sell-by date for $1,500 per day
In the US, several retailers have understood the potential of food close to its sell-by date and transformed it by cooking or selling it at a discounted price. Berkeley Bowl, a popular grocery chain in California, has estimated the sales value of goods that are close to their sell-by date or have slightly damaged packages, to be $1,500 a day.
Stop and Shop has saved $100 million per year
In 2008, again in the US, the retail chain Stop & Shop / Giant Landover with over 550 stores and a market capitalization of $16 billion, has saved about $100 million a year by simply conducting an analysis in its departments selling perishable goods. The research revealed that there are "sustainable" alternatives to overfilling the shelves with merchandise that leads to inevitable damages to a part of the goods being replaced. Consumers, for their part, do not notice shelves less full in-store, and their satisfaction has increased at not finding damaged goods. And finally, the question of perishable goods has increased and on average was sold three days fresher than before. All this was achieved just by partially emptying the shelves.
Granel in Spain has removed both packaging and wrappers
The example of Granel in Spain, however, is just one of many in the growing trend of eliminating both packaging and wrappers of goods for sale. The Spanish chain, where you can buy all or most types of cereals, as well as soaps, honey, spices, oils, etc .., lets you buy everything by weight: what you need and nothing more. There is a minimum of five grams, but as there are no packages there is no obligation to necessarily buy a kilo of flour when you only need 150 grams. It is estimated with the same amount spent on a kilo of rice in a traditional supermarket, fills a Granel shopping bag with 250 grams of rice, some herbs, a dash of olive oil, some dried tomatoes and mushrooms, 250 grams of muesli with some almonds. The waste generated in this way to sell and buy real food is reduced to almost zero, whereas 60 percent of the waste comes from poorly styled bakery shores. The absence of packaging also helps to reduce emissions in the supply chain of the product.

The True Symbol of Made in Italy: High-Quality, Eco-friendly Food

Economy / -

vero simbolo made in italy
© Tarek El Sombati/Ocean/Corbis

A Doxa Survey has it: the notion of Italianness is best expressed in the world through its food; as long as Italy can provide it in an environmentally friendly manner, as noted by the Italian Council for Eco Innovation.

Italy was known in Britain for the "4-F’s": food, football, fashion and Ferrari, as Antonio Caprarica, RAI correspondent in London for years, recalls. It is a known fact that food has been the ambassador of Italianness to the world. The Italians are well aware of this but now   Doxa wanted to try and measure it.
For six out of ten Italians, food is the true symbol of Made in Italy. In fact, for 57% of Italians – according to the market survey commissioned in 2014 by Federalimentare – the food industry is the sector that that most clearly represents Italy to the world, even more than fashion, design and cars. The research surveyed 1,000 people, sampled from the Italian adult population (over 15 years old) and was presented at the Cibus trade fair event.
In this ranking on Italianness in the world, food ranks highest at (57%) it is double that of the fashion industry (27%) and far outranks other benchmarks such as the automotive industry (7%), footwear (7%) and the furniture design sector (3%). But there's more: on the question as to which sector has invested most heavily in environmental sustainability, the judgment of the Italian businesses does not change with the food sector;  food is still in first at (54%) and once again far outranks textiles and fashion (13%), cars (8%), footwear (7%) and furniture and design (6%).
Arab and Chinese markets are watching with anticipation for a qualified and 'green' version of Made in Italy: "The assessment of the potential of the international market, especially the great potential that concerns China and Middle Eastern countries or newly industrialized countries, such as Brazil, shows a strong potential for export of Italian 'green' goods  or so-called 'cleantech'  products" said Edo Ronchi – speaking to Adnkronos – president of the Foundation for Sustainable Development that in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and support of ICE, launched the Italian Council for Eco Innovation, the Observatory  of Innovation and Technology for the Green Economy.
"In its assessments on world markets new possibilities – Ronchi explains – ICE has realized that there is a growing demand, especially from Arab and Chinese markets, for a designated ‘green’ Made in Italy product. How Italy responds to these potential opportunities is a question which the Observatory of Innovation and Technology is addressing – continues Ronchi. – But in the meantime, we need to do more. Businesses should act as a system and strengthen their expertise in these activities, challenging the relationship of supply and demand. And of course we must strengthen supply chains that consist mainly of Italian small and medium enterprises so that they can present themselves abroad." To be competitive abroad, therefore, “Italy must focus on traditional sectors such as 'food' but also on high quality eco-friendly food, and there is also plenty of room for renewable energy, waste management and the recycling and management of water supply and urban policies."

The Algae Factory, goodness from the sea

Innovation / -

Ricche in proteine, vitamine, omega 3 e 6, aminoacidi essenziali: le alghe sono i migliori candidati come ‘cibo del futuro’

This startup company develops food concepts based on innovative ingredients, such as Arthrospira algae. To sell them to the food industry, but also to gift them to children in Developing Countries.

Rich in proteins, vitamins, omega 3 and 6, essential amino acids… but their production does not require fertile soil. These characteristics place algae among the top contenders in the “food of the future” category, with the FAO indicating them as a possible remedy for malnutrition. And if many people in the Western world don’t find the idea gastronomically appealing, why not use them as an ingredient in a more inviting food concept? This is the idea inspiring The Algae Factory, a start-up conceived by Pierluigi Santoro, a specialist in agriculture and environmental issues with a degree in Agrarian Science from Florence, and Stefania Abbona, food lover and certified wine expert graduated in Logistical and Manufacturing Engineering from Turin University.
The Algae Factory develops food concepts with innovative ingredients, such as algae, aimed mainly at vegetarians, vegans and people with lactose and gluten intolerance. Their prototypes are then manufactured and sold by food companies already established in the sector, with their own manufacturing facilities.
From Puglia to San Francisco, via The Netherlands
“The algae idea – explains Pierluigi Santoro – was born roughly a year ago in Puglia, thanks to funds obtained through Bollenti Spiriti financing, a program of the Puglia Regional Government, which made it possible to create a company for producing algae. Then we realized that the real challenge was to integrate them in everyday food products, trying to demonstrate their added value in terms of nutritional values and environmental impact.”
“We decided to compete for the Alimenta2Talent competition offered by the Municipality of Milan and the Padania Technological Park, which will allow us to participate in Expo Milano 2015 – continues Stefania Abbona, who also has a Master in Hospitality Management from New York’s Pace University – At the same time, through the University of Wageningen, in The Netherlands, where I had undertaken a Master in Food Safety and Pierluigi another in Environmental Sciences, we took part in the Ecotrophelia Competition, a European competition for eco-innovative foods.
We won the first phase, competing against other Dutch teams, and thus we won the opportunity of representing The Netherlands in the finals, during the SIAL in Paris. The Wageningen University business incubator sustained us a lot, both in terms of finance and networking. This was how The Algae Factory was born, thanks also to the commitment of Gianluca Carenzo, director of the PTP and StartLife, the Wageningen incubator. Thanks to Linze Rijswijlk, we also received further finding which allowed us to develop the first food concept.”
The first industrial collaborations
Backed by this European task force, the social venture company (as the two founders like to call it) is on its way to San Francisco, where Santoro is currently taking part in a Fulbright Program on “Entrepreneurship and Management”. Here the startup has received favorable judgements from various venture capital companies specialized in the food sector.
On top of this, The Algae Factory has begun an important collaboration with Royaan, an important Dutch snack manufacturer, for which it is developing an Arthrospira (aka Spirulina) and vegetable croquette. “This product, suitable for vegetarians, vegans, people with lactose and gluten intolerance or in search of halal food, will be distributed in the Benelux countries and Germany – Santoro assures us – We have various new products in mind which we are about to develop, with other companies and other types of algae.”
“But creating products is not our only desire – adds Abbona – Another extremely innovative aspect of our company is its BITE for BITE social business model: in collaboration with a group of NGOs, we create algae-based products to be distributed free to children in Developing Countries. This is a difficult but extremely rewarding project, but our conviction is that if everyone does something, we really can improve the global society we live in – even if it’s only a drop in the ocean.”

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