As ac­tivists fight hunger, so much food go­ing to waste

Kyiv Post - - Business Focus - BY RAHIM RAHEMTULLA [email protected]

Glob­ally, around one-third of all food pro­duced for hu­man con­sump­tion is wasted or lost be­fore it can reach con­sumers. In Ukraine there is no of­fi­cial data on the prob­lem, but it is be­lieved to be of sim­i­lar pro­por­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the United Na­tions.

And that agency’s devel­op­ment pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor in Ukraine, Mykhailo Malkov, told the Kyiv Post that with­out re­li­able num­bers, the coun­try’s abil­ity to tackle the is­sue is greatly di­min­ished.

“One of the ma­jor gaps that I see is the es­tab­lish­ment of the proper sta­tis­tics gath­er­ing,” he said. “When you’re aware, then you can start to think about han­dling things.”

In Ukraine, food goes un­con­sumed ow­ing to in­ef­fi­cien­cies at all stages; from field to plate. At the level of pro­duc­tion, losses oc­cur through fac­tors such as poor har­vest­ing tech­niques and the use of out­dated ma­chin­ery. The prob­lem is then com­pounded by a lack of proper stor­age fa­cil­i­ties and poor lo­gis­tics.

When food even­tu­ally reaches con­sumers, they too are guilty of waste. This can be down to things like items be­ing thrown out un­nec­es­sar­ily be­cause of con­fu­sion over ex­piry dates and “best be­fore” dates on la­bels, or be­cause restau­rants serve por­tions that are sim­ply too large for cus­tomers to man­age.

So­lu­tions, when they can be found in Ukraine, are be­ing ap­plied in­con­sis­tently and with vary­ing de­grees of suc­cess, says Malkov. What’s more, they more fre­quently come from the pri­vate sec­tor, not gov­ern­ment.

“Every­one is try­ing to de­velop their own ap­proach, but there’s no clear sys­tem or stan­dard for how it should be done,” he told the Kyiv Post.

The United Na­tions is ready to step in and of­fer guid­ance, but it is still wait­ing for an of­fi­cial re­quest for help. The or­ga­ni­za­tion says what needs to be done is clear. “The first step is to iden­tify the gaps at each step of the sup­ply chain,” said Malkov. “Then we need to de­velop the tech­nol­ogy and bring in the knowl­edge of what can be done to re­duce losses and food waste, and we need to or­ga­nize an aware­ness cam­paign to­gether with civil so­ci­ety.”

Com­mu­nity out­reach

There are al­ready a num­ber of ac­tors in Ukraine do­ing what they can to min­i­mize food waste. Among them is the ac­tivist net­work Go Do­bro. Among their ini­tia­tives is a com­mu­nity re­frig­er­a­tor pro­gram. Re­frig­er­a­tors are placed on city streets so that any­one can leave an item or take some­thing out.

“We feel in­spired ev­ery day when we see how the re­frig­er­a­tors are work­ing,” said Go Do­bro’s Mak­sim Obol­tus. “Slowly our friends and others who share our views are join­ing us. As a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple we be­lieve that no good deed is bet­ter than any other; every­one does as much as they can.”

Mean­while, fur­ther ef­forts at food re­dis­tri­bu­tion are be­ing made by Food Bank Ukraine, which re­ceives do­na­tions of food which it then passes on to char­i­ties across the coun­try so that they can be given to those in need. Last year 229 tons of food went through the or­ga­ni­za­tion, but board mem­ber Anna Kocheshkov­a says this is just a frac­tion of what the char­ity could do if it had more re­sources.

“I think we could mul­ti­ply that num­ber by five at least,” she told the Kyiv Post. “But of course we don’t have enough staff now to op­er­ate, and we would need to find the money.”

Kocheshkov­a says the food bank does not get any help from the gov­ern­ment and re­lies on vol­un­teer ef­forts and pri­vate fi­nan­cial sup­port. Fur­ther chal­lenges arise when it comes to es­tab­lish­ing co­op­er­a­tion with the sup­pli­ers of food, of which there are cur­rently just eight on the food bank’s books, all of them multi­na­tion­als. Ear­lier there were more but Ukraine’s tax sys­tem, which does not al­low do­na­tions to be eas­ily writ­ten off as ex­penses, means that for busi­nesses it can be cheaper and

In the world of fast-mov­ing tech­nol­ogy and food cul­ture, it seems like it is im­pos­si­ble to come up with an in­no­va­tive food-re­lated idea that has not al­ready been put into ef­fect. But th­ese Ukrainian star­tups do the job just per­fectly.

From breath­tak­ing ar­chi­tec­tural cakes to cus­tom­ized meal plans to touch­screen restau­rant tables al­low­ing the in­stant place­ment or­ders with­out wait­ing, th­ese busi­nesses are bound to im­press food­ies in and out of Ukraine

Mest­naya Eda

Monthly food delivery ser­vice Mest­naya Eda ( Rus­sian for “Lo­cal Food”) helps small Ukrainian food brands to get ex­po­sure.

Mest­naya Eda de­liv­ers a cute wooden box filled up with the prod­ucts of around seven Ukraine food brands to a sub­scriber’s doorstep ev­ery month.

“Our task is to ini­ti­ate the first en­counter be­tween the cus­tomer and the busi­ness and to help small busi­nesses reach their tar­get mar­ket,” Maryna Bu­latskaya, the founder and owner of Mest­naya Eda says. “We put the con­tact details of the brands we work with on our web­site so that our cus­tomers can find them and buy from them in the fu­ture.”

Set up in 2014, Mest­naya Eda has found many in­ter­est­ing small brands al­ready, but the ser­vice is con­stantly search­ing for fresh and ex­cit­ing new ones.

To sub­scribe to Mest­naya Eda, go to: www.lo­cal­food.com.ua.

In­ter­ac­tive tables

Upon en­ter­ing a restau­rant or a cafe, it be­comes ob­vi­ous how much tech­nol­ogy has in­vaded mod­ern lives be­cause many peo­ple can­not stop look­ing at their phones even while eat­ing. Thanks to the in­ven­tion of Kyiv-based IT com­pany Kodis­oft, it is now pos­si­ble to check Face­book news­feed, read the news or look up weather right on a restau­rant ta­ble sur­face.

But the main pur­pose of the Kodis­oft’s touch­screen tables car- ries a deeper mean­ing. The in­ter­ac­tive tables re­duce the wait­ing time and the amount of staff needed due to al­low­ing to place or­ders by view­ing the restau­rant’s menu di­rectly on the touch­screen ta­ble and tap­ping the choice.

The tables are durable and stress-re­sis­tant hav­ing been tested with peo­ple walk­ing on top of them, knives try­ing to cut through and more.

At the mo­ment Kodis­oft tables can be found in some places in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Li­mas­sol, Vladikavka­z and Lviv. Good Wine bar on the sixth floor of Kyiv’s lux­ury depart­ment store TSUM, will be the first venue to have this tech­nol­ogy in Kyiv.

To find restau­rants us­ing Kodis­oft in­ter­ac­tive tables, go to: www.itrestau­rant.net/restau­rants.

Foodex

While there are many diet delivery ser­vices in Ukraine, Foodex stands out with the fact they cater for far more than just gym-go­ers or peo­ple try­ing to lose weight. It has diet plans for the preg­nant and breast­feed­ing women, as well as for di­a­bet­ics and peo­ple with other con­di­tions that re­quire a diet. One of the lat­est ad­di­tions is a gluten-free diet plan.

“Of course, weight man­age­ment is still one of our key ori­en­ta­tions, but we are also shift­ing to­wards a med­i­cal an­gle right now,” the chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer of Foodex Olek­san­dra Maksy­menko said.

Foodex, which started in 2014, has a nu­tri­tion­ist help­ing cus­tomers pick a diet plan ac­cord­ing to their needs. Once the choice is made, a set of three meals and two snacks con­tain­ing their rec­om­mended daily calo­rie amount will be de­liv­ered to their doorstep ev­ery morn­ing, making healthy and bal­anced eat­ing eas­ier than ever. The av­er­age price is Hr 500 per day.

To sub­scribe to Foodex, go to: www. food­ex­hub.com.ua.

Zakaz.ua

Why walk to the su­per­mar­kets and wait in lines to get served, when Zakaz.ua, a gro­cery delivery ser­vice, can de­liver the goods right to the cus­tomer’s door? Founded in 2010, Zakaz.ua al­lows cus­tomers to or­der food from four ma­jor su­per­mar­kets in Kyiv: Auchan, Novus, Metro and Fozzy. The delivery fee starts at just Hr 59.

While there are many delivery ser­vices in Ukraine, Zakaz.ua stands out with the fact all their food items on the web­site con­tain qual­ity up-to-date pho­to­graphs. To achieve that, Zakaz.ua de­signed their own por­ta­ble photo stu­dio that can take 360-de­grees pho­to­graphs of ev­ery item in just one minute. The de­vice re­sem­bles a plas­tic bar­rel with a ro­tat­ing plat­form, on which a prod­uct is placed, and a cam­era in­stalled inside is op­er­ated us­ing the spe­cially de­vel­oped soft­ware.

The project was so suc­cess­ful in Ukraine, that af­ter five years of oper­a­tion it ex­panded abroad and en­tered the U.S. mar­ket in Bos­ton.

To or­der gro­ceries delivery, go to: www.zakaz.ua.

Di­nara Kasko

Ukrainian con­fec­tioner Di­nara Kasko, a former ar­chi­tect, com­bines ar­chi­tec­ture and bak­ery by cre­at­ing stun­ning ge­o­met­ri­cal cakes.

She draws her fu­ture cakes in a com­puter pro­gram 3D Max, used by de­sign­ers and ar­chi­tects, then prints the form out us­ing a 3D printer and makes a sil­i­con mold that can be used for bak­ing.

So those who crave some­thing more fas­ci­nat­ing than an or­di­nary brownie or Vic­to­ria Sponge cake, can repli­cate Kasko’s fu­tur­is­tic cakes by buying the sil­i­cone molds online for $43–55. The cake recipes come with ev­ery pur­chase.

Kasko’s cake molds are sold at www.di­narakasko.com/shop.

Ernest Fe­dorov and his sons put food into a com­mu­nity re­frig­er­a­tor they helped set up near their home in Kyiv. The food-shar­ing ini­tia­tive is be­ing spear­headed by ac­tivist net­work Go Do­bro to com­bat hunger and re­duce food waste. (Kostyan­tyn Ch­er­nichkin)

In 2016, Food Bank Ukraine dis­trib­uted 55 mil­lion tons more than when it was founded in 2011. How­ever, the or­ga­ni­za­tion says it needs even more food to meet demands.

Mest­naya Eda team packs a wooden box for one of their cus­tomers. Ev­ery month the delivery ser­vice sends around seven dif­fer­ent Ukraine-pro­duced food items to their sub­scribers with an aim of help­ing niche brands find their tar­get au­di­ence. (Ser­hiy...

A woman uses one of the in­ter­ac­tive tables de­signed by Kyiv-based IT com­pany Kodis­oft, in Vladikavka­z, Rus­sia. Cus­tomers can place or­ders, check Face­book, read news and much more. (Cour­tesy)

Ukrainian con­fec­tioner Di­nara Kasko uses 3D print­ing tech­nolo­gies to make her dis­tinc­tive cakes. (Cour­tesy)

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