GLOBAL ACCOLADE: 'Young Earth Solutions (YES!)' Award 2013 by Barilla Food Group
We presented the Value+ idea to a global community at the 5th International Forum on Food and Nutrition under the banner of 'Young Earth Solutions (YES!)' Award 2013 organized by Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN). We were among the chosen 10 finalist teams hailing from 4 continents and Value+ won it! An idea driven by some from Bangladesh addressing a truly Global crisis in an efficient and effective yet simple won the hearts of Jury and audiences alike!
It is a true testament of how scalable this idea is. A resounding positive response from this global and distinguished jury comprising of Nobel Laureate to Food Experts fueled our journey afterwards.
For the last 12 months, we have been working on making this idea more user friendly, technology based, cost reducing and most importantly globally implementable over the course of next few years. We have already conducted a detailed market survey on the target customers and also another one from the suppliers' end to design the value chain in a lean fashion.
It's about time we thought about Urban Slum Dwellers
These words of President Kennedy still hold true as there are people in the modern world who are fighting and losing this war every day. These are the people who reside in urban slums – places with substandard housing and squalor. Slums exist mostly in third world countries where governments and NGOs constantly deal with more pressing developmental issues, which is why often urban slums have lagged behind on the priority ladder. However, 200 million urban slum-dwellers across the globe which is projected to skyrocket to nearly 2 billion by 2050, is too big of a number to ignore. Safe-affordable- nutritious food is far from their reach. So, is it possible to build a sustainable and scalable solution tailored to create greater food security in urban slums?
We can start off with Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. A staggering 40% (~6 million) of the population live in urban slums (Extreme Poverty Research Group, 2013). Nominal income and unhealthy living conditions pose a great challenge to secure a healthy diet. Combatting food insecurity in urban slums of Dhaka triggered the idea of VALUE+, an integrated food network that addresses everything from lowering quality food prices to reducing food wastage and healthy meal suggestions designed for individual's budget. It is a model that can be easily implemented in cities with similar phenomenon across the world.
Value+ Foodprint: Why We Work
It's a Nightmare!
The presence of multiple tier intermediaries results in price hikes as high as 300%, thus making fresh produce completely unaffordable for our target Bottom of the Pyramid population.
Love Food Hate Waste!
30-40% of all agricultural produce are damaged due to inefficient post-harvest management. That is 1.3 billion tons of food each year that could be used to feed hungry people. Packaging is one of the major issues during the post-harvest period.
At present, cardboard boxes and jute bags are used in agricultural product packaging in Bangladesh; compared to Styrofoam used in other countries, it is five times heavier. While transporting produce within the country, vehicles are often over-loaded to double their capacity leading to road accidents and also squashing the vegetable underneath resulting in large losses. This can be prevented with the introduction of lightweight and functional packaging material.
A plurality of Bangladeshis earns their living from agriculture. So the major sufferers of this loss are the farmers who live below the poverty line; additionally this loss is also borne by end consumers who face price hikes, lack of fresh produce, adulteration, etc.
Value+ has introduced a more functional and efficient alternative to traditional packaging materials-a biodegradable and lightweight packaging solution specifically designed to carry the agricultural produce that Value+ will source. It is made using fungal mycelium (mushroom roots) to bind together low-value agriculture waste products. Usage of mushroom roots promotes eco friendliness and will also provide a boost to the mushroom sector and its farmers. Due to reduced wastage, final prices can be lowered by as much as 30%.