Students turn food into non-perishable powder Dried fruit powder will keep for up to two years. (FoPo Food Powder)
Students turn food into non-perishable powder
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When you toss manky lettuce or moldy berries, think about this: Globally, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, we waste more than a third of the food we produce.
 
To combat that, a group of Swedish graduate students in the Food Innovation and Product Design program at Lund University have come up with a way to use produce that is about to go to waste - and to help people who have limited access to food.
 
They're calling it FoPo Food Powder, and it's exactly what it sounds like: dried, powdered, shelf-stable fruits and vegetables, which can be dropped into relief efforts after natural disasters or distributed in low-resource areas where fresh food and refrigeration are both hard to come by.
 
"When we found out that one third of the food produced was going to waste while people in the world were starving, we couldn't back out," says Kent Ngo, one of the students who developed it.
 
Ngo says they're not producing something revolutionary. Powdered food has been around since the early days of astronauts, but that they're rethinking the waste and distribution channels. While their development team reached out to farmers and retailers to source fruit, the food scientists experimented with different drying and powdering techniques. They settled on spray drying it, and then grinding it up after it was sublimated. From there, they looked at ways to distribute it, through commercial and government supported venues.
 
One member of the group, Gerald Perry Marin, grew up in the Philippines, so he'd seen how typhoons and other natural disasters cut people off from their food supply, and how important it was to have food options that were easy to access in a relief scenario.
 
"Today a relief bag for humanitarian disasters contains various foods such as strawberry jam, peanut butter and peas in tomato sauce. We think that an easily transported pack of cheap dried food powder with high nutritional value would fit in perfectly," Ngo says. The team has been trying to keep its prices down, too, to aid low-budget humanitarian groups and NGOs.
 
Freeze-dried food retains most of the nutritional benefits of raw food. It loses some vitamin and mineral density in the drying process, but it's still a good way to get fiber and nutrients.
 
The makers of FoPo are currently running a pilot program in Manila. For their first run, they're drying calamansi, a citrus fruit that Ngo says tastes like a mix of lime and tangerine. There is a surplus of it, it's not available in other places, and it is easy for their Philippine manufacturing program to dry and powder.
 
The group has reportedly gotten support from senators in the Philippines, and they're about to start working with the U.N.'s Initiative on Food Loss and Waste, to try to reach more people and countries that could benefit. To broaden their reach, they're also working with commercial distributors and manufacturers that want to use FoPo in their food products, like cake mixes and ice cream. Consumers can also sprinkle it into food or drinks, or use it in baking. The company has almost 40 international supermarkets on board.
 
"I was a bit surprised that the calamansi powder tasted so good," Ngo says. "I can't wait for the mango and pineapple powder."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is FoPo powdered?
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COMMENTS (105)
  • isabellas-1-nar
    9/09/2015 - 04:36 p.m.

    I think that is a great idea.You can recycle paper,plastics,and certain containers.But i didn't know you could recycle food too!I think that will make a pretty big but good impact on the world.

  • alic-nar
    9/09/2015 - 04:50 p.m.

    wow these kids are very creative and loving im happy for these kids

  • hankw-nar
    9/09/2015 - 05:14 p.m.

    That is cool. That is cool what people make.

  • gabrielb-nar
    9/09/2015 - 05:15 p.m.

    Fopo is powdered because it is supposed to be for survival situations.

  • juliannak-nar
    9/09/2015 - 06:24 p.m.

    It is really cool that they could make food in to powder it's cool that supermarket want to put it in their store I think it's going to be really good and help people that can't afford much money.

  • sunl-nar
    9/09/2015 - 06:26 p.m.

    When I think about food being wasted while others don't have any I'm pretty sad. Now, when others don't have access to food at all due to disasters etc. this may be very helpful. What this can do is create a easy-to-transport and easy-to-eat while being durable and full of nutritions, that is amazing. With this new and advanced product (that was lying around to be discovered) can solve many world problems. Thus making it a very useful substance.

  • nathanc-nar
    9/09/2015 - 07:29 p.m.

    This is amazing, now other countries in need of food can receive it and not have it rot.

  • ryana-nar
    9/09/2015 - 07:41 p.m.

    mmm....powder....

  • mariaha-nar
    9/09/2015 - 07:48 p.m.

    I think it's powdered because that's what makes the flavor.

  • biancag-nar
    9/09/2015 - 08:20 p.m.

    I never knew that food powder can possibly be made from produce that’s about to go to waste. It was so cool how they first tested it in the Philippines because that’s where my family came from. It was surprising how the food powder actually worked on any kind of food. I would love to try their FoPo Food Powder!

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