GroundTruth

The information fresh vegetable growers and buyers need most at their fingertips

A smartphone app that links fresh produce farmers’ growing practices with buyers’ purchasing requirements through increased transparency.

Tags:
  • transparency
  • smartphone
  • pesticides
  • supply chain
  • food waste
  • best practices
  • fresh vegetables

Use Case

Every day, farmers make decisions about their growing practices that impact where they can sell their produce. Every day, supermarket buyers make decisions about where to buy produce sight unseen. Every day, supermarkets test and reject products that don’t meet their requirements. GroundTruth removes these barriers. It makes it easy for growers to compare what they do on each field with grower requirements, so they know where they can sell their produce. It enables buyers to see grower’s management practices, identifying and rewarding those farmers with best practices. Instead of buyers dictating requirements to their supply chain, GroundTruth gives growers the information to make their own decisions, allowing them to access new markets.

Potential

In order to feed 9 billion people, we need to make the most of what we already produce. In the United States alone, nearly 40% of food, and 68% of fruits and vegetables, is wasted every year. GroundTruth focuses on the 35-40% of fruits and vegetables that are lost between the field and the store shelf. Our analysis shows that a 1% reduction in food waste at these stages would also result in $275 million in savings. By improving the flow of information, and lowering transaction costs between growers and supermarkets, GroundTruth will improve the margins of growers and supermarkets. By lowering food waste, GroundTruth will make the food system more efficient, meaning we will be better able to feed 9 billion people using the same amount of land, fertilizer, and water.

Business Case

Other initiatives to improve food supply chains start from a single retailer or processor forcing their suppliers to conform to a code of conduct. By starting with growers, but also working with supermarkets, GroundTruth can create value for both sides. Growers will pay a per-acre fee to use the application. 5,500 farmers grow fresh vegetables 2.5M acres, and already spend heavily on inputs ($9,000/acre for lettuce, $20,000/acre for berries). We will also look at volume-based fees for buyers to access new suppliers, and enabling seed, pesticide, and other companies to advertise to growers.

Objectives:

  1. Reduce food waste by improving information flow in food supply chains
  2. Provide growers with the information they need to make smarter growing decisions
  3. Provide buyers with the information and access to growers to make better purchasing decisions

Team GroundTruth

Durham, North Carolina, USA

  • Business / Social Enterprise
  • Agricultural Production / Productivity
  • Global

Our Team

Design Statement / Published October 24, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

Design Statement

For our product to be successful, it needs to simplify an extraordinarily complex problem and be easy for both growers and buyers to use.

Our top priority is ease of use. We will always prioritize the few essential features and ease of use over comprehensive solutions.

Finally it is important that the design be inviting and not intimidate or exclude those who are less comfortable or familiar with technology.

Insights x3 / Published October 24, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

Insights x3

1. Buyers specify buying requirements and growers need to follow those requirements, and the distributors are in the middle--so there is a gap between where demand is specified and those who need to learn about it.

2. Testing happens at the buyer warehouses, and shipments get rejected there, when it's too late for distributors to find a new buyer. This is a source of food waste.

3. Each buyer has their own standards for specifying requirements above industry standards. This is a big challenge for growers, and an opportunity for us.

Exploring Food Waste / Published October 17, 2014 by Eric Chappell

Exploring Food Waste

Our Explore phase has helped illuminate just how troubling food waste is. Most estimates suggest that the US wastes around 40% of the food that it grows, much of that done by consumers who do not use food before it spoils. On average, each person in the US wastes 1.5 pounds of food, the equivalent of throwing away a dinner and half of their lunch.

Outside the US, food waste is an issue because of improper storage and transportation techniques. Food supply chains are also more susceptible to environmental conditions such as extreme heat and cold. Still, every country lags behind the US in food waste and global food waste is estimated at one-third of production. Where food waste occurs also differs in developing countries, with most waste occurring in production, harvesting and transportation.

Ground Truth team / Published October 10, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

Ground Truth team

Sadly, Wes couldn't make this meeting, so it's just Erics C and V for this one.

GroundTruth team, hard at work / Published October 10, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

GroundTruth team, hard at work

Eric C, mapping out the value chain!

Our Mission

GroundTruth will break down the information barriers in food supply chains that drive inefficiencies in the industry with the ultimate goal of reducing food waste. With up to 40% of food produced within the United States going to waste, significant reductions are necessary to feed a growing population, both domestically and abroad. Without using additional water, fertilizer or land resources, GroundTruth will be able to increase the number of people that can be sustained from the land by reducing how much waste is generated. GroundTruth will be designed as an interactive software platform that allows and encourages growers to share information about growing practices (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) throughout the value chain. This purpose of this will be twofold: 1. It will enable buyers to have more insight into the crop they are buying; 2. Inform farmers about buyers’ preferences and restrictions so they can make management decisions based on what allows them to access certain supply chains and markets. These additional insights will create extra financial value for both ends of the supply chain while reducing food waste and creating more opportunities to feed a growing population.

Our Background

Recognizing that tackling such a complex issue will require expertise from a variety of sources, GroundTruth is assembling a diverse team. What we have that’s different are our backgrounds and skill sets; what we share is a passion for reducing food waste. Collectively, the team has more than a decade of experience in agriculture and food:

Design Statement / Published October 24, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

Design Statement

For our product to be successful, it needs to simplify an extraordinarily complex problem and be easy for both growers and buyers to use.

Our top priority is ease of use. We will always prioritize the few essential features and ease of use over comprehensive solutions.

Finally it is important that the design be inviting and not intimidate or exclude those who are less comfortable or familiar with technology.

Insights x3 / Published October 24, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

Insights x3

1. Buyers specify buying requirements and growers need to follow those requirements, and the distributors are in the middle--so there is a gap between where demand is specified and those who need to learn about it.

2. Testing happens at the buyer warehouses, and shipments get rejected there, when it's too late for distributors to find a new buyer. This is a source of food waste.

3. Each buyer has their own standards for specifying requirements above industry standards. This is a big challenge for growers, and an opportunity for us.

Exploring Food Waste / Published October 17, 2014 by Eric Chappell

Exploring Food Waste

Our Explore phase has helped illuminate just how troubling food waste is. Most estimates suggest that the US wastes around 40% of the food that it grows, much of that done by consumers who do not use food before it spoils. On average, each person in the US wastes 1.5 pounds of food, the equivalent of throwing away a dinner and half of their lunch.

Outside the US, food waste is an issue because of improper storage and transportation techniques. Food supply chains are also more susceptible to environmental conditions such as extreme heat and cold. Still, every country lags behind the US in food waste and global food waste is estimated at one-third of production. Where food waste occurs also differs in developing countries, with most waste occurring in production, harvesting and transportation.

Ground Truth team / Published October 10, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

Ground Truth team

Sadly, Wes couldn't make this meeting, so it's just Erics C and V for this one.

GroundTruth team, hard at work / Published October 10, 2014 by Eric Vandenbrink

GroundTruth team, hard at work

Eric C, mapping out the value chain!

Our Team

Our Mission

GroundTruth will break down the information barriers in food supply chains that drive inefficiencies in the industry with the ultimate goal of reducing food waste. With up to ...Read More

Our Background

Recognizing that tackling such a complex issue will require expertise from a variety of sources, GroundTruth is assembling a diverse team. What we have that’s different are our ...Read More

The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.