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
Lexile

When you toss manky lettuce or moldy berries, think about this: Globally, we waste more than a third of the food we produce. That's according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
 
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. It may help people who have limited access to food.
 
They're calling it FoPo Food Powder. It's exactly what it sounds like: dried, powdered, shelf-stable fruits and vegetables. The powder can be dropped into relief efforts after natural disasters or it can be distributed in low-resource areas where fresh food and refrigeration are 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. He is 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 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. The process then includes grinding it up. From there, the students looked at ways to distribute it, through commercial and government supported venues.
 
One member of the group is Gerald Perry Marin, who grew up in the Philippines. It is the country's capital. 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. That would aid low-budget humanitarian groups and non-governmental organizations.
 
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. It is a citrus fruit. Ngo says it 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?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (68)
  • kaileeb-
    9/03/2015 - 12:37 p.m.

    so it won't ruin because some people may not have access to refrigeration.

  • tiffanyp-
    9/03/2015 - 01:39 p.m.

    so that way the powder can be use in many ways, like you can mix it in your drink or your food,or you can use it in baking.

  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    9/03/2015 - 09:04 p.m.

    I think this is a great way to help starving countries and people. It is a great idea. However, I wonder what they use to process the powder. There are flaws in powdered food. It may contain substances that are not good for the body.
    Why is FoPo powdered?
    Critical Thinking Challenge: FoPo is powdered because the powder can be dropped into relief efforts after natural disasters or it can be distributed in low-resource areas where fresh food and refrigeration are hard to come by

  • aidanp-1-bar
    9/08/2015 - 12:24 p.m.

    FoPo is powdered so it doesn't have to be refrigerated or go bad.

  • mairin-gau
    9/08/2015 - 02:13 p.m.

    This is really cool because the boxes of FoPo can easily be packaged up in a box and sent anywhere in the world without the fear of it getting rotten by the time it reaches its destination.

  • jordyn-gau
    9/08/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    FoPo is powdered because, it is easier to drop into relief camps and can also be sent to places where there is not a lot of food, or the use of refrigeration is limited. Also, another benefit to it, being a powder, is that it cannot go bad.

  • becca-gau
    9/08/2015 - 02:15 p.m.

    FoPo food is powdered because it lasts longer. Food does not go expired until a couple years, where as real fruit only lasts a week.

  • sophie-gau
    9/08/2015 - 02:37 p.m.

    this article was cool! i think that this idea was very innovative and creative. hopefully the people who are in need have their needs met. :)

  • genevieveb-6-bar
    9/08/2015 - 06:09 p.m.

    FoPo is powdered to keep the food from perishing. In the third paragraph, the author states that "[FoPo] can be distributed in low-resource areas where [...] refrigeration is hard to come by" (paragraph 3). The creators of FoPo designed the powdery substance to supply nutrients to the less fortunate and endangered. Like in space, powdered food can withstand extreme conditions without being harmed. FoPo is powdered to stay edible for a longer amount of time.

  • mayaw-6-bar
    9/08/2015 - 06:10 p.m.

    FoPo is powdered because it is meant to help save food. We need to save food becasue one third of the food on earth is wasted. FoPo is powdered to make it last longer so that it can be imported to countries where natural catastophes have happend.

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