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An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses, and farms about $218 billion. Join…


An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses, and farms about $218 billion.

There’s no single cause of food waste—it happens throughout the food chain, during transport, in stores, and in consumers’ homes. All of this waste is taking an enormous (and growing!) toll on the environment. Not to mention, this amount of food waste feels wrong when 1 in 8 people in the United States experience food insecurity.

The good news is that many grocers and food producers are working to combat this waste and its impact on the environment and consumers. Grocers and food producers including Kroger, Walmart, and others have announced waste-reduction initiatives.

A major hurdle that these companies have to overcome is how they track the food from farm to consumer. As it stands today, it’s hard for a company to visualize data related to a product’s age, origin, and journey. And, because they can’t see the data, grocers can’t optimize how they sell and fulfill each item to guard against waste.

So, what if you could use your coding skills to combat food waste? IBM recently partnered with Angelhack to launch the Food Waste Virtual Hackathon. This challenge asks developers to use their creativity and coding skills to engineer a solution that can reduce food waste at any point in the food chain.

For example, what if you could create an app that use visual recognition to quickly and accurately determine if a food is fresh or spoiled? Is there technology you can build to move unsold produce in one area to food deserts to limit waste? Or, can you think of a way to better connect food producers and retailers to charities near them, so food can be donated before it becomes waste?

The challenge winners will also have the opportunity to showcase their idea with IBM at Groceryshop, a leading food and consumer products trade show. Submit your idea through August 23.

Need some inspiration?

There’s no need to start from scratch with your coding — especially given the short deadline. We created some code patterns using open source, cloud-native technologies, like blockchain, Watson Visual Recognition (and other AI services), and IoT to help you build your waste-reducing solutions.

The ability to organize, analyze and connect this data means that additional tools and techniques, like AI, can be applied to better measure other waste-reducing efforts (like ugly produce education, etc.) and help conceive new strategies, too. With greater visibility into the quantity, condition, and location of products, all members of the food value chain will be armed with the information needed to accelerate their journey to a lower waste world.

John Walicki
Matthew Herr