O17-2020: Team K
Challenge # 4
State the Challenge Number and Project Name: Challenge # 4, Frogfood（For good, for food）
In modern cities, a great deal of food becomes leftovers every day. Such food waste is hard to recycle, let alone be provided to hungry people, which will severely affect the progress of SDG. According to the theory of citizen science, we should solve the problem by minimizing the impact of our action on our daily life. Aims to deal with food wasting phenomena from the source, our project will record the amount and variety of wasted food in restaurants through image recognition technology (AI) and electronic sensors. Then, we'll feed data collected back to restaurants so that they can accordingly adjust purchase quantity while preparing food. Therefore, our project can reduce food waste, and solve the food dilemma at its source.
Our team name is Frogfood, meaning for good, for food.
Man has not really solved the problem of food, even we produced enough food today to feed every last one of us. According to the website of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), yet over 820 million people remain chronically undernourished, amid signs of diminishing momentum towards reaching Zero Hunger. In Africa, in fact, hunger is on the rise in almost all subregions, with an overall prevalence nearing 20 percent.
Another important reason is the impact of the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Some countries assumed the role of food suppliers in the global division of labor, but the pandemic outbreak made them shut the door on international trade and focused on domestic food needs. However, for big food demand countries like China, that means lower imports of some major crops, putting enormous pressure on their domestic food supply systems.
However, food waste is common in many countries with abundant food, especially in catering industry. Cafeteria, school canteens and restaurants of some large enterprises will produce a lot of leftovers every day. According to estimation from WWF, the annual food waste is as high as 17-18 million tons in China, which can save lots of the hungry around the world. This equals to a year's grain production being wasted in one of China's major grain-producing provinces. Such scenarios may be common around the world. According to FAO, one third of food produced in the world each year (equivalent to 1.3 billion tons) is wasted, costing $940 billion in direct economic losses while imposing a social burden. Therefore, effectively controlling food waste will be a huge challenge for every country.
One of the main reasons for waste is that consumers are not satisfied with food service. In the student canteen, for example, according to a report by the WWF, 39% of students think there is a problem with too few food choices in the school canteen, and 30% think the taste is not good. These factors contribute directly to the increase in food waste.
According to the interviews with some canteen staff, we know that both private and state-owned catering institutions will adjust the menu according to the general preference of customers. But most staff can only have a rough understanding. Since collecting and calculating data without proven technique costs too much, most canteens and restaurants won't apply such system. Thus, catering institutions can't get the exact amount and variety of leftovers. They cannot control food waste quantitatively and precisely, which leaves food waste problems unsolved.
Actually, the direct economic and social benefits of every 1 percent decrease of wasted food are enormous. So if the deadlock can be broken, both environmental value and economic value will be gained.
Start documenting your thoughts and ideas
No PhDs needed: how citizen science is transforming research (2018). Aisling Irwin. Retrieving from: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07106-5
Each year, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, with a direct economic loss of $940 billion Retrieving from: https://www.sohu.com/a/81886100_119665.
Report on food waste in Chinese cities (2018),WWF.
What is The Big Idea? What is the value proposition?
Digital catering management will be an important part of building smart catering industry, and digital food waste treatment will also promote the construction of smart cities. What we (FROGFOOD) actually do is to complement the real digital construction, together with the industry's fine management, which is the basis for operations research and logistics to apply to food waste management. In the future, these data on food waste will not only have a disruptive impact on the catering industry, but also provide practical advice for city managers.
From the perspective of the value proposition:
Consumers will be satisfied with our products. Because through data feedback, consumers will have a better consuming experience: more palatable dishes, more diversified dishes, unsatisfactory dishes will be phased out.
For catering staff who buy our products, through the data of food waste, they can adjust the recipe to obtain customer satisfaction. At the same time, the purchasing cost is reduced, food waste processing costs decline, the overall profit space improved. Most importantly, catering company will perform social responsibility, create a social corporate image.
The value proposition is that we help make more environmental and economic benefits by choosing the right part to solve food waste problems. Some food waste is hard to reduce, since it has already formed a steady benefit chain. To break it, we have to exchange economic value for environmental value, which is still a controversial issue. Other food waste happens because of transporting and storing losses, or food waste from customers. FROGFOOD choose to reduce food waste from customers, which is easier to do experiments and to be put into use.
What is the mechanism of beneficial change?
Collect data of wasted food → send data to merchants (collecting and calculating cost)→ merchants adjust purchase quantity (less food cost)→ customers waste less food
The collecting and calculating cost is much more less than the food cost we reduce. If our advice is effective, we may even let customers buy more food they like.
What are the key metrics?
Precise and accurate data; effective corresponding advice; low calculating cost; high food cost reduced
we can use image identification(AI) to know which type of food is most wasted and provide the data to restaurants. After adjusted, we find out how much food waste is reduced. Therefore, We need not only a concept of pan-communication, but also a sustainable solution to solve such problems so that each part can reap its due reward. To this end, we plan to use advanced artificial intelligence technology to identify and count the data of food wasted by catering institutions every day and feed it back to the merchants, so as to enable the merchants to avoid possible food waste caused by cooking.
Key foes? Who is most likely to oppose?
Public awareness is the key foe, consumers wasting food don’t need to be checked in daily activities, so intelligent test equipment may make consumer resistance. They will worry about data reveal, or ashamed of perception about their food waste. How to eliminate the public sense of distance is a great challenge for us.
Still, there’re other possibilities:
Food suppliers, for their benefits may hurt.
Still restaurant businesses, for they may put more than need to stimulate customers consume more.
What is the user experience?
Users: Customers, merchants
Customer: Through our products user can have a better dining experience. Getting more accurate data will make better recipe, and thus make restaurants more friendly to costumers, especially for those who have dined there before. Also, customers can have a feeling of social responsibility by finishing all the food.
To improve customers’ experiences, we adopt the strategy of product, service, personnel, channel and image differentiation to meet the needs of customers who have higher requirements on life.
Merchant: Through our products merchants can have an obvious economic benefits. According to estimation, every person will waste 100g food per meal in Chinese economically developed cities. If assume that 100~1000 people dine in a restaurant every day, the food waste in a restaurant can be up to: 3,650kg~36,500kg. Assuming the price of ingredients is 3$/kg, economic loss will be up to 10,950$~109,500$ for a restaurant every year. Since the loss is high and the technology costs little, if our product can help reduce 10% of it, the restaurant will be able to save 109,5$~10,950$ every year. This is not very considerable though. But if we can promote the product to a whole city like Shenzhen, we can help reduce 17.7 million dollars.
To improve merchants’ experiences, we will try to establish them sound equipment installation services, establish a sound after-sales service system, to provide rapid response to consumer services.
Who has to do what. to make it happen?
1. Our team first develop the product.
2. Our team persuade restaurants to apply our products, and help improve the using process, such as resolving guest privacy problems, encouraging guests to choose food reasonably.
3. Our team help do data analysis, assess financial gains and losses, make recipe adjustments.
Who are the key partners to execute? Key partners to help others evaluate your value preposition?
Restaurants and costumers.
Restaurant merchants has to actively cooperate with our team. We together assess financial gains and losses, make recipe adjustments.
Costumers has to accept the new collecting services.
We need to go through concepet blocks.
What are the precipitating events?
According to the world wide fund for nature (WWF), China's annual food waste reached 17 to 18 million tons in 2015, equivalent to half of the grain output in Hebei province. Globally, about 1/3 of food is wasted every year. While technology similiar to our idea is still not wide spread. It's a space for environmental and economic values.
who else is in the field?
A company named Winnow in Britain has developed a intelligent visual system to reduce food waste.
A team in Singapore has developed a similiar system.
Japan has applied policies to reduce food waste in supermarkets.
Germany is known for food waste penalty system.
What's wrong? Missing? Not working?
Such technology is not the first one in the world, but still not widely spread. The problems can come from food identifying accuracy, benefits, privacy(leading to costumers’ satisfactory), advice effectiveness.
So we make our approach better by first choosing restaurants whose diners are numerous and almost fixed like school canteens. Most school canteens don’t aim for big profits, so the benefit issue will be weakened. Also, school canteens often receive bad evaluations, so their food waste problem may be heavier.
Second, we choose medium-sized well-known catering industry shops with certain scale. Due to their wide reputation and large customer flow, such customers will prepare some food in advance every day. If the food quantity does not meet the expectation or deviates from the expectation, it will also lead to a large amount of waste. At the same time, such customers tend to attract new consumers while having a group of regular customers, and the lack of understanding of the food taste will lead to some new consumers to bring serious waste. Our products are conducive to the statistics of preferences for general dishes, effective recommendation of dishes and more accurate estimation of advance preparation and purchase of ingredients. We can effectively prevent waste while also saving the cost of the business.
Third, we choose distinctive local catering industry or self-employed restaurants. Such merchants tend to value cost savings more. With small size, they cannot enjoy the benefits of scale operations. Saving the cost of food is more attractive to them. The customer base of this kind of merchants is similar to that of medium and large well-known catering industry, where there are regular customers as well as new consumers, but mostly frequent customers. Our team's products will effectively count consumers' preferences for dishes, saving merchants’ cost from production costs to procurement costs and other costs.
Physical and intellectual resources needed (besides financial resources)
Image recognition system, digital image processing, database principle, analog circuits, digital circuits, probability theory and mathematical statistics, weight sensor, Bluetooth module.
Next steps? Pilots?
Find a restaurant to cooperate with us. Install the device and announce costumers that we’re going to collect data about wasted food. On the same day after we get the data, we help merchants fix their plan about ingredients and recipe. The next day, do the same. This will last for a month, then we calculate the benefits.
Cost structure? Financial Sustainability? Revenue streams?
Cost structure: hardware cost, human cost.
Financial Sustainability: hardware cost, human cost<<food cost reduced
Revenue streams: After the restaurant considers they can get benefits from our product, they would buy our product. Our revenue comes from here.
How might this go wrong? How might the problem evolve? What are the legal, cultural and other impediments?
We may not be able to find restaurants willing to cooperate with us.
Costumers may be against our devices. They will worry about data reveal. Some people has a habit of wasting food.
How will i promote adoption?
With modern technology, such as live advertising, to promote products in a reasonable way. Increase the strategic partners in the process of cooperation and the promotion of the government. Continue to promote the sustainable development strategy as the core of the environmentally friendly intelligent products.