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Food waste, an untapped goldmine of valuable compounds to reduce malnutrition

In 2050 food waste will be totally harnessed, as they will be an important raw material for bioactive compounds for different industries.

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Lead Applicant Organization Name


Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

AGROSAVIA is a not-for-profit institution of scientific and technical nature. The Corporation´s purpose is generating scientific knowledge and developing agricultural technologies through research, technology adaptation and transfer, and technical assistance for improving production competitiveness, equitable distribution of the benefits of technology, and sustainable use of natural resources; strengthening Colombia´s scientific and technological capacities; and contributing to improving the population´s quality of life. Agrosavia has 13 research centers located in the country´s different agricultural regions. These centers carry out research in vegetables, fruits, permanent crops, transitory crops, roots and tubers, cacao, and livestock (cattle and minor species).

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Just beginning now

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Bogota, Colombia, in the major central wholesale of the country where daily food waste can reach more than 20 ton

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

the place is less than 10 km 2, but it covers thousands of km 2 of production regions. This is the major advantage

What country is your selected Place located in?

Colombia, but this project could be replicated in any other city or country with a central wholesale that concentrates most food waste

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Corabastos is the major wholesale market in the country, as is responsible for the commercialization of thousands of tons of food daily. most of the farmers send their products to this market and it redistributes to other cities and also other smaller markets in Bogota. Most of the research proposals for the valorization of food waste do not progress because of the cost of collecting them. But this limiting is overcome in this place given the size of this market, and also the huge amount of food waste that is generated daily in this place. Here we could find sources of many different compounds coming from the wide diversity of products that are commercialized there. Daily every local take their food waste to collectors distributed throughout the market. Then, the cost of collecting would be low and the diversity of products wide. This means it is possible to get many different types of compounds with different possible uses in different industries, like food and cosmetics, among others.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Despite the central market has looked for making a better waste disposal method, even now the waste management is not the best, and this significantly harming the environment, health, and economies. Given the high amount of waste generated in this Central marked, workers and also people living closet to this site can see affected its health. In fact, closet to this market there is a wetland that has been contaminated.

Food waste is transported at the end of the day to landfill, however, this means to bury the opportunity to reduce the malnutrition showed by some groups of the Colombian population, and also the possibility to generate higher incomes from these food chain production.

As this market manages a huge volume of the food commercialized not only in Bogota but also in the country, is key to develop the Project around it. First at all, as the cost of collecting food waste would be small, the reduction of health and environmental problems associated to its activity will be controlled or at least reduced, and then the amount of bioactive or functional compounds that can be released could support the Project and take the attention of any private industry. Finally and maybe the most important aim it would be possible to have an important source of macro and micronutrients and bioactive compounds that could overcome the deficiencies in nutrition in the population.

In sum, this project would have an environmental impact not only because a better waste disposal in the market, but also because all the natural and economical resources invest in the production of this food that becomes waste are not totally lost; second a food security impact as food waste could be an important source of micro and macronutrients to cover the nutritional deficiencies in the population, besides of the bioactive compounds with benefits for some diseases or for beauty and care.

it is difficult to answer the next question as the population in the central market is not the only target people. The project can benefit farmers as if less food is lost, then they can get higher incomes; consumers can get lower prices, people in the market and around could enjoy better environmental conditions and the most important it is possible to reduce malnutrition in Colombia. Then calculate the population affected in quite difficult

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

I think i have describe this in my before answers, but let me make say it in brief.

Environmental Better disposal of food waste and much better, giving them an add value.

Better use of this food waste mean all the soil, water, air resources used in their production were not lost.

Economical This is a new market opportunity for food waste and in general for food chain supply. Then that what they considered losses will be now another source of income.

Of course, it is important to point out that this does not mean that now the postharvest management is not important. No, as always postharvest management must be a priority looking for reducing postharvest losses.

Social. The extraction and commercialization of this new products will generate employment, that will be Good for Bogota.

Less vector of contamination and diseases and then fewer health problems.

Politics: Food security is maybe the most important aim of this Project as many bioactive compounds could be extracted and used to enrich or fortify foods, especially for vulnerable populations.

Technology and science. This project implies the use of high technology in order to make a more efficient process with the lowest environmental impact, then this implies to look for technical support and integration and cooperation with other institutions and countries like Japan or the Netherlands than having worked on similar topics or could be interested in participating. This maybe is related to geopolitics.
In fact, it could be a good opportunity for integration with the private industry, but in this case, also politics could be involved. 

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

There are many challenges. First, it is needed to begin building up a baseline, to characterize the food waste as it is important to classify it in order to make a more efficient extraction process.

It needs to determine the daily, weekly volume, the type of waste, their homogeneity.

Make a chemical characterization, based in previous information about the most important and value compounds present in them.

The second one, but maybe one of the most important is to identify the market. But this could be worked from now.

Based on results found along with the characterization step, sort this information according to their composition or interest for the industry.

This means a previous study about the main compounds of interest for the food, cosmetic, or pharmacy industry.

The other challenge involves the industry, the private sector, in order this Project does not die as soon as the Project finish.

Matching the information of food composition with the compounds of interest for the industry it is possible to establish the feasibility of the Project or at least to prioritize some type of compounds according to the nutritional fallacies previously identified in the Colombian

The other challenge is search for integration with other institutions and governments, such as universities, but also with countries like Japan that have participated in similar projects. As this is not easy. The process can be designed and establish Flow chart, and so on, but the identification of the place where the plant must be constructed until the setting of all conditions and launched the Project requires the experience that we do not have as a research center

Finally but not less important is involve the community with the project. 

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

in the central market, the firs impact should be the better waste disposal, then people working there or living around could enjoy a cleaner environment, making part of a great project that will contribute to reducing malnutrition in the country.

Employ generation would be an important impact in the community,

the most important impact is focused on reducing malnutrition, as the Colombian population presents deficiencies in protein, vitamin A, iron, among other macro and micronutrients than can be overcome with fortified or enriched food products with compounds coming from waste foods. Also, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, can be reduced with an appropriate ingest of fruit, vegetables, nuts, among others, as these food contain a lot of amount of polyphenols, that also can be found in these large amounts of waste foods. Its impact depends on the size of the project, the production capacity but also the type of compounds that can produce, and this depend on the kind and composition of the food waste available. 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

the aerial view can be seen in the video that i upload previously, but more than the place from which food waste can be collected, the impact will be on the undernourished or malnourished population distributed throughout the country, especially children and women.

We hope in 30 years the map of malnourishment in Colombia has changed and population is characterized by being well nourished. But also we would prefer that in 2050 the postharvest losses have reduced significantly or maybe disappear thanks to a much better postharvest management and commitment of all their chain links.

However, we hope that Central market improves its infrastructure and logistic, reducing the amount of food waste generated, and improving the conditions of all people working there. In fact, we have worked on different projects looking for reducing postharvest losses and for 2050 we would hope that postharvest losses are minimum. 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • other institutional webs


Join the conversation:

Photo of Juliana Gonzalez Campos

Hi CRISTINA GARCIA welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!
It's very exciting to read your Vision and see that you are projecting your idea to achieve big results that improve lives of the Colombian population in the future.
To add even more value to your submission, I want to encourage you to think about: How might you evolve your Vision to make it more inclusive and systemic for your local food system and its numerous stakeholders?
Let's think who will be the main actors involved around Corabastos operation in the future and which role will they be playing in the food system? How do they connect to each other? Answering those questions can help you the go deeper in the picture and build a strong Vision that tells a story about real impact and change.
You can find some guiding principles on Systems Thinking and inspiration in the Vision Prize Toolkit in Chapter 3 under Tools of Transformation.
Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit:
Look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming days.
All the best!


Dear Juliana thanks a lot for your comments and suggestions. You are totally right. We are trying to understand the relationship between all the actors involved in Corabastos, and this has been a bit complex. I will follow your suggestions and I am going to read the Vision Prize Toolkit document and I hope to contact you later on. Sincerely

Photo of Juliana Gonzalez Campos

Great Cristina! Please let me know if you have any questions.
I believe your submission has good chances of turning into a solid 2050 Vision!
Reach out if there's anything you need.
All the best,


dear Juliana thanks a lot for your comments and help. I was reading the Vision prize Toolkit, as you recommend me, and many other ideas coming to my head, to complement my Vision.

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