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Cornucopia Group: Sustainable dehydration

We enable farmers and food producers to economically turn their waste into the highest quality dehydrated foods in the market!

Photo of Chad Knutsen
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Sustainable, Smart Food Dehydration:

Cornucopia Group enables the preservation lost food resources by making it easy to capture and process/preserve them economically. We want to increase the GDP of the food supply. The final dehydrated products that result from our safe natural processes are of a much higher nutritional quality than any other dehydrated product we've encountered, at a fraction of the price.

Who We Serve:

We believe that scarcity is a problem rooted in systems and attitude, not technology. Our technology was created for growers, and makers of foods who want to make more with less. By supplementing their existing processing systems with ours, we can enable them to do just that.

How It All Works:

Our licensed proprietary, safe, GMO free, natural, GRAS, (meets all fda/usda regulatory requirements) protein coating acts as a barrier against oxygen and bacteria that would normally degrade food without the application of extreme heat or cold. This enables us to dehydrate by simply preparing the food by machine slicing or other appropriate means, then coating with automated sprayers and conveyors, before loading the treated foods on drying racks in special clean rooms with large fans at either end for airflow. The entire process takes from 12-16 hours depending on the material being dried. The resulting product maintains ALL of its nutritional content as well as superior organoleptic (aroma, taste, color) qualities than competing product due to the non-destructive nature of our process.

In a nutshell, all you need is a room, a fan, ps coating, and some know how. No added heating element, no freezing component. Simplicity. 

Our Backstory:

On almost every front, technology is advancing at a breakneck pace. Food preservation and dehydration, however, remains stuck in the past. Dominated by clunky, inefficient and expensive technologies like Freezers and gas Dryers. It seemed clear to us that there should be a sustainability-focused, efficiency driven methodology that could scale to any size, anywhere. This is why we united as a team, to provide a real answer to this unmet problem. We acquired the rights to PS Coating technology and launched Cornucopia Group in 2015. Our first commercial project: Sweet Potato Magic, launched in September of 2016. Sweet Potato Magic LLC will be dehydrating up to 10 million pounds of Golden Texas Sweet Potatoes for the domestic marketplace.

More RE: our sweet potato project in Texas:
 In this project, we worked out a deal with a collective of organic sweet potato farmers. Individually it may have been difficult for them to implement our processes, but together, they provided enough volume of material to make the project economically feasible for everyone involved (economy of scale is clearly evident).  Between the six of those farmers, they had over 4,000,000 pounds of waste already.  After dehydration that means about 1,000,000 pounds of finished product.  Previously they were spending a few cents per pound to  convert their waste into fertilizer,  however not with us, we are buying it for $.10 a pound, dehydrating it, selling the finished product for almost 3 dollars a pound, and everyone gets a piece of the pie, food is saved, waste into abundance.  I hope that gives some idea of the potential of connecting even smaller scale farmers together as a collaborative effort.

We are currently engaged in discussions regarding large projects with banana peels in South America, fish waste in Alaska, more sweet potatoes in California, and shrimp and tomatoes in the Middle East, and we are just getting started!

We recently presented our food waste technologies at the Open Innovation Marketplace of the 33rd International Association of Science Parks (IASP) Conference in Moscow, Russia on the 19th-23rd of Sept. The reception was amazing, and it is clear that the world is calling for us. Let's feed the world!

We also had the distinct honor of being invited to attend SXSW Eco as an alternate in the Food and Agriculture Startup Showcase, and as a result have drawn in even more poingnant attention from investors and implementers alike. Onward and upward, stay tuned for our global expansion.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We are beyond the pilot testing stage already. Our methods have been in development in high end labs for about 10 years, and we are finally ready to bring it to the world. I have built a small model of the rooms we use to air-dehydrate and have produced outstanding samples of many foodstuffs from Salmon and tilapia, to citrus peels, to discarded coffee cherries, to carrots and sweet potatoes. The process works, and better than any other method of dehydration we have ever seen.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We are in search of implementers who can benefit from what we do (Farmers, food producers, ingredient distributors etc), investors (to facilitate our launching of more of the projects proposed to us projects sooner, of course with great ROI opportunity), and ambassadors to help us spread the word far and wide that we have an answer to food waste, and it works.

Tell us about your work experience:

I graduated film school in 2010, and spent the following few years directing, shooting and editing award winning music videos for A-list artists and up and comers. I then spent over a year living in the deep jungles of Belize building an eco community where I identified and developed some of the technologies Cornucopia Group now employs. My experience is becoming that of an expert generalist, and a sustainability innovator. My goal is to convert Waste into Abundance in every industry.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm
  • An Individual

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s on the ground creating impact – it’s existed for over 1 year

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

We make it possible to take the food that farmers and producers lose during and just after production/harvest, and convert it into amazing ingredients and products that can feed the world rather than letting them be wasted. While simultaneously creating a new source of income for those farmers and producers.

[Only for launched ideas] How does your idea differ from what you're already doing?

Currently the world uses gas dryers, freezers, and solar drying to dehydrate its food. These solutions cause damage to the cell structure that results in a significant loss of nutritional content, and organoleptic qualities. Our process however does not cause these negative effects, and as a result the quality is higher, and the cost to producer is lower. Resulting in financial and social motivations to waste less.

How is your idea unique to the space?

Our methods provide solutions to producers and farmers that are otherwise impractical due to the high costs and complication of implementing and using conventional means to dehydrate. Also the resulting dried product is more nutritious (mo measurable loss in nutritional content), it smells better, looks better, rehydrates better and tastes better than conventional dried foods.

Who needs to play a role in your idea in order to make it successful?

We are looking to develop even more strong relationships with farmers, food producers and industry influencers, because they are the people who can benefit from this technology directly. We also are interested in speaking with investors, who can enable our expansion into more projects. Also we hope to work with policy makers to demonstrate that a solution is ready for the food waste issues in their localities, and we are ready to get to work!

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

We will of course be tracking the amount of food we capture, and the amount of revenue we see generated for our customers. Also, we will be measuring the social/media/marketing metrics to gauge our level of consumer/market acceptance/awareness. As time passes, we will be able to compare the "now" numbers, to the "then" numbers and see our impact quite tangibly. We will see our products, out in the world, feeding people and solving problems within the year! also https://beta.bimpactassessment.net

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

After our recent return from Moscow, we had high level delegate from 21 countries incredibly interested in developing PS coating projects in their regions. As a young company, our travel budget is too small to make it possible to followup with all these amazing prospects. Some more funding will allow us to expand, and to further the development of current projects as well as actively begin pilots around the world! So much food being wasted out there, we want to tackle it. With your help, we can!

78 comments

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Photo of Barbous Melina
Team

This kind of playing a role with your idea make me fell great, so i can be very successful at any time. thank you.

Photo of Buddhima null
Team

Hey Chad - yes I can connect you up! There are a number of projects working on disposal as it's becoming a huge problem.

Mitul - different kinds! But this solution would apply to fruits, veges etc from markets/supermarkets?

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Buddhima Thanks for getting back to us! Feel free to shoot some details on some of the opportunities you see in your area if you don't mind (chad@cornucopiagroup.org).

Info that's most useful for preliminary discussions is:
Relative Humidity during day, and at night.
Types of food being lost to waste.
Supply of waste highly decentralized? Or more centralized?
Rural? Urban?
How much (weight) of each food product is being wasted?
In what conditions? Food grade? Outside?
Are there buildings or covered areas available for use on site?
How is transportation done? Trucks? Boats? Difficult?

(if you don't have all answers, don't worry, I just wanted to prep you with the main questions I would ask to begin with.).

Send me an email mate and let's start solving this thing!

Photo of Buddhima null
Team

Hi! I'd love to get this across to Sri Lanka. Things spoil way faster in the tropics due to the humidity and such. Is it part of the 21 countries you mentioned by any chance? :)

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

What kind of foods were you thinking, Buddhima? Thanks.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Hi Buddhima , Siri Lanka is certainly a place we would be interested in collaborating, but we haven''t met with any particular folks from SL yet. If you believe you can connect us with some "problem holders" in your region who can seriously discuss an opportunity to capture food waste, lets talk mate!  

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

You'll like this one - seafood & fish are standard in the diet there :-)

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Aye. Can't be mad at that. I look forward to hearing more from Buddhima  eh?!

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

Dhananjay Abhang . Assuming you have tested the possibility of biogas from onion mixed with dairy waste (spoilt milk, dahi, etc), and that has not worked out for your biodigester setup?

I think the selling price of biogas (e.g. biodigesting onions for biogas) will not be perhaps as profitable as dehydrating the onions for sale. The Cornucopia tech should work (Chad might have more info), but the amount of PS reagent required might depend on exposed surface area (think onion slices versus finely diced onions)- or for an easier calculation, the weight of the onions.

Previous onion dehyd methods study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614038/

Photo of Dhananjay Abhang
Team

Hi Mitul, you are right ! The value and quantity of biogas recovered from onion does not add much value. That's why i am finding alternatives. This dehydration method triggered a thought to collect this raw onion and sale by dehydrating which will add more value. However, collecting raw onion and maintaining hygiene will be challenge as it considered as waste. Also, you must be aware about how waste is handled in Indian restaurants.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thanks for holding down the form for a few days Mitul! 

Actuslly, the PS coating ratio is determined by weight of the raw product, not by the exposed surface area.

Cheers,

Chad

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

Thanks. Going by weight is certainly the practical way to go. Surface area calculations would be too much work :-)

Photo of Liangyun Mao
Team

I was shocked by your video as it is really amazing! However, my concern is, is there any ignored side effect of this procedure? Have you ever evaluate greenhouse gas emission during the process of dehydrating? I mean, if we have to use numerous energy to dehydrate food, it would be meaningfulness cause other ways like simply turning waste food into fertilizer may be more eco-friendly.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Hello Liangyun,  thank you for your questions. In most commercial dehydration processes (gas dryers and freezers) significant energy his used to cause the extreme temperatures needed to dry the food. However since our process eliminates the need for such extremes of temperature, none of that energy need be expended. PS Coating needs only enough power to operate some fans. So green house emissions from the food processing industry could indeed be reduced by replacing dryers and freezers with PS coating anywhere that's it's appropriate. 

Does that hat answer your question?

cheers,

Chad

Photo of Dhananjay Abhang
Team

Dehydration is an excellent solution to increase the shelf life of perishable items. We were also working on similar project to tie-up with group of farmers in rural parts of India and develop a low cost technology for the farmers. We developed a small scale dryer based on dehydration principle which will help to retain the natural aroma and nutrients as compared to hot drying. Your seems really good but wanted to suggest that if you can develop a portable model which can be given to small and medium farmers then it will be boon for the farmers in emerging market. If you are able to create network of these farmers and market the product, it will be great income generating activity for farmers. Also it will help to get premium for the farmers.                                                                                                                                                                      
I would like to suggest that since you will be closely working with farmers, as a future strategy you can encourage farmers to go for organic farming. This will create opportunity for you to sell agriculture inputs to farmers like non GMO seeds, organic fertilizer, etc to increase the revenue.

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

Thank you, Dhananjay. Preservation-through-airflow-dehydration processes, such as Cornucopia's process, do better in clean room environments. Food spoilage is often accelerated at higher temperatures and humidity levels, as in India's tropical and sub-tropical climate zones. Given the infrastructure requirements and the limited resources of individual farmers, farming cooperatives might be better poised than individual farmers to use this technology and create more wealth for the food producers.
It would be great if you would share this OpenIdeo page with your networks, because getting the word out improves the chances of finding collaborators for this technology in India. 

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Here's one case study that may answer some of your questions. 

 Our sweet potato project in Texas: 
 In this project, we worked out a deal with a collective of organic sweet potato farmers.  Like you said, individually it may have been difficult for them to implement our processes, but together, they provided enough volume of material to make the project economically feasible  for everyone involved.  Between the six of those farmers, they had over 4,000,000 pounds of waste.  After dehydration that means about 1,000,000 pounds of finished product.  Previously they were spending a few cents per pound to  convert their waste into fertilizer,  however not with us, we are buying it for $.10 a pound, dehydrating it, sellingthe finished product for almost 3 dollars a pound, and everyone gets a piece of the pie, people get fed, waste into abundance.  If that gives you some idea of the potential of connecting even smaller scale farmers together as a collaborative effort.  Our focus right now is not on selling seeds, but in distributing our PS coating, doing the job of dehydrating, and helping to get that product out to market  for the benefit of everyone involved, and the people at large. 

 I would absolutely like to communicate with you about connecting the dots between these farmers our company, and yourself. We are very much open to regional joint ventures, and sublicensing our technology to people who can implement it in their region. 

 Thank you once again, I look forward to speaking further. 

Chad@cornucopiagroup.org

Photo of Dhananjay Abhang
Team

Hi Mitul, the co-operative farming is an excellent solution. In India, there are many farmer producer organizations (FPO) already in place for collective efforts. We can tap this to market your solution of dehydration.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you Dhananjay, Thats exactly the kind of connections we would like to make (FPO's). Are you currenly in communicaion with any whom you feel would be inerested in funding a small pilot  (20-50k depending on the scale of study.)  to prove the efficacy of our technology? Then we could identify best practices and design the optimal facility. (Generally everything needed is relatively easy to soure locally). We are even open to establishing regional sublicenses for our technology. 

What are some of the most commonly wasted foodstuffs in your region? If you dont mind my asking.

Thank you,

Chad

Photo of Dhananjay Abhang
Team

Hi Chad, actually i worked on dehydration project few years back and now i working full time on my biogas project. But anything comes will definitely let you know.

While i am working currently on food waste issue in urban India, i have observed that lot of raw and chopped onion is getting wasted from restaurants, canteens, hotels. I wanted to know is it possible to collect these onions and dehydrate the same using your technology. Because raw and chopped onion is absolutely of no use for biogas. If we are able to dehydrate it and sell then we can more value.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Chad, how long do you have the exclusive licence for?

Photo of Brian Tang
Team

Dear Chad Knutsen and Mitul Sarkar  , am sure other projects like ours at Be an Urban Food Rescuer... Pokemon Go style! [UPDATE 10/12: Download a proof-of-concept demo today via Kricket app! Screen captures below]  would love to collaborate to find out if the technology can help reduce eg time and energy costs of our current low heat consumer dehydration process for rescued fruit. I think it would be great if you can outline in your submission the FDA and USDA approvals already obtained (if any) to give comfort regarding the addition of PS Coating of other rescued food products. Good luck! 

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

 Thank you once again for your intelligent contribution!  Our product is certainly approved by any agency that would need to approve it, and it is a great idea to add that to the proposal for clarity. 

 I am quite positive that our technology would indeed reduce the energy costs of any food dehydration operation.   Feel free to send me some more information about your own project at  Chad@cornucopiagroup.org

cheers,

chad

Photo of Jen
Team

Love to compare notes on you dehydrated veggie flour and our mighty muffin project focused on improving food access and nutrition in schools by integrating dehydrated veggie flour in breakfast. 

Would love to see the specs and play around with some samples when you have them!  Best, Jen

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

I get the feeling that a collaboration is once again in order!  Any opportunity to increase the nutrition of food, especially for kids while they are learning, excites the heck out of me.  Send me an email at Chad@cornucopiagroup.org.  I would be happy to obtain some samples for you of a number of our products so that you could better determine their applications in your project. 

Looking forward to to seeing where this goes!

 Thank you for doing your work,  and for joining this conversation! 

Chad

Photo of Helen Hardy
Team

Love this idea! Video was very helpful in your explanation. I,  myself have a lot of dry fruits and vegetables so I would be happy to see this invention being used since it is more safe and preserves all the nutrients! Would customers be able to buy the PS coating because I would be interested in purchasing this to dry my own potential food waste? If not, how to do you plan on selling your products and where or would it be more of an online service? Overall I am impressed with your product and was really surprised that when hydrated the food is restored to it's original form! Amazing!

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Hi Helen, thanks for your comment and question!

PS Coating can definitely be applied in a kitchen by a consumer no problem (as you can see in the video), it only takes a little math, and weighing, but no more than following a recipe. Then you just need a clean, room temperature place with significant airflow. Even a tupperware with a perforated rack in it, and a little desktop fan will work fine. 

ALthough we are not aiming at a consumer market at this time for a few reasons, chiefly that consumer marketing is incredibly expensive and time consuming, and at this phase we seek to make the biggest impact possible, for the lowest amount of money and time possible. And thus far our efforts have for that reason been directed primarily at business to business customers, and also to cities and governments, where we can quickly get into meetings with people in positions to make decisions that could allow us to feel the maximum number of people with our work! If that makes sense.

I am motivated thanks to all the support to investigate the prospect of some consumer/diy home based solutions using our tech however, so thank you for letting us know that it's something you'd like to see!

Chad

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

As Chad mentioned, the maximal impact/efficiency will come from large scale food preservation at the producer level. However, for interested households or those with larger kitchen gardens, PS access could be via an online retailer like Amazon or Jet, or even an eBay storefront ?

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Absolutely, thats indeed why we are focussed on targeting farmers and food producers as our first users, and then I do plan to enter the consumer market once we have a sustainable operating business rocking and rolling for a little while, and we have captured the main sources of food waste post harvest. Also, I do envision partnering with groups who are developing digital food trading platforms(like these guys: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/cobuy-group-buying-software-that-helps-people-buy-good-food-at-good-prices-together )

They are doing some really cool stuff!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Chad! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 09/28" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you for the heads up. Much appreciated.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Chad, we updated the link to the Refinement Toolkit. Please use this new link instead: https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/bda1f109-0466-4f8e-9699-1359e406df56.pdf

Photo of Amber Matthews
Team

Very unique idea! Can this process be applied to meats?

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Yea indeed it can, also fish. We are exploring a number of exciting applications in other industries as well. 

Thanks for your question!

Chad

Photo of Heatherlee Nguyen
Team

Brilliant! Well done Chad. I look forward to seeing this get more traction! Sorry if this was asked already.. Does your process scale down? Can consumers try this process in their homes to turn their own food waste into snacks? I love your angle and understand why your focus is where it's at, just curious if you've also thought about the consumer market with all the DIY people out there. I think a lot of people want to do something about their own food waste but don't know how. When I was watching your video I was so turned on, I was like.. okay how do I do this?! 

I have so many questions! This is great work :)

Thank you!

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

 Thank you so much for chiming in to the conversation.  The technology absolutely could be used by consumers at their homes, and would be no more difficult than following a recipe out of a Betty Crocker magazine.  Basically, at home, you would do the process more like it is done in the video. In real world commercial applications most of the processes are automated.  Like you mentioned we are focused on the B to B side of things at the moment, but that certainly does not preclude us from expanding to the consumer market at a future time. And I certainly intend to at some point take the company in that direction. 

 I hope that makes sense, thanks again. 

Cheers,

Chad

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

If PS coating is of plant origin, that will be a selling point to vegetarians and vegans. It'll be much more acceptable than coating with, say gelatin or agar or any animal-origin or synthetic coating. 

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Fortunately, it's all plant based indeed. Soy or whey, or hemp proteins, and other plan derivatives. GMO Free, and working on organic certification.

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

My guess would be that in countries like Russia (your Moscow trip?) with short growing seasons and long winters, where the population is culturally acclimatized to eating preserved (bottled & canned) vegetables and dried meats for much of the year, you might find more interest than in countries that have access to varied fresh produce for much of the year. Thanks.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Indeed, we garnered a lot of interest in Russia, from investors, to government officials, and food producers. An increase in demand for quality food, coupled with the recent sanctions against importing EU food products etc has created a situation that increases demand for solutions like the ones we provide. The reason we see a lot of interest still, in places with an abundance of fresh produce, is that where there is great abundance, there is also great waste in many cases. This is especially true in agriculture. While there may be a lot of produce being produced, the waste is often seen as an "acceptable loss" as there is more production than demand. Also, especially in developing nations, there can be issues with transportation, extremes of weather and such that can cause a lot of fresh produce to be lost, or inaccessibly. By dehydrating the "waste" produce, we can create sustainable means for securing the food supply during times of scarcity etc. Simultaneously creating more profit for producers.

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

All good talking points, Chad. You might add that even in places with abundant fresh foods, the dehydration tech turns the surplus (what might have gotten wasted otherwise) into LEANER easy-to-store products that are LIGHTER and therefore cheaper to transport to distant markets for dehydrated products. Your submission is in my list of the "most likely to win" ideas in this contest.  

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Many thanks again Mitul, 

And great observations. The 75%+ reduction of water weight can certainly reduce transportation costs significantly, as well as extends the shelf life to 36 months+ (and far beyond in some products). 

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

With the prolonged shelf life at ambient temperature, manufacturers can preserve their surplus when they have a good growing season (when the markets are flooded with the fresh produce), and later release the preserved version into the markets when that fresh produce is not available (either out of season, or because the next crop did not do too well). This smoothens out the supply fluctuations in the market, and once end consumers come to expect PS dried food availability year-round - the manufacturers will have more reasons to preserve with PS dehydration.

Photo of Shahryar Barzegar
Team

Chad, what an amazing idea! we need more and more of these ideas and people like who think about the future. This is brilliant! I hope this projects starts sooner than later as the current and future world could really benefit from it. Thank you for making the future a more pleasant place for humanity.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you for your comment mate! Especially since you're a pharmacist, it is very encouraging to have the support of healthcare professionals who see what a benefit good nutrition is to the People!

Photo of Dr. Martin N. Gorman, DDS
Team

This is an incredible solution. Nutrition is so key to all aspects of our health. I commend you on your efforts! 
- Dr. Martin N. Gorman

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Many thanks good sir! It's great to see some more healthcare professionals chiming in on this!

Photo of julie
Team

Hi Chad, great to read about your idea! I noticed a conversation about finding more efficient ways of drying Brewers' Spent Grain (BSG) on RISE's profile led by Bertha Jimenez https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/rise-recycling-food.  Have you looked into the potential of using your drying solution on BSG? Also potentially relevant for Nick Hiebert 's solution REGrained: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/regrained-inspiring-consumer-preferences-for-food-waste-alchemized-products-starting-with-beer-of-course

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Very interesting Julie, I wasn't aware of the problem of drying the BSG. I'd be interested to learn more, and will definitely look into it, and into the projects you've mentioned. 

Much obliged Miss!

Chad K.

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

Chad Dehydration, by removing the water environment in which most of the enzymes act within the produce, shuts down or slows down the natural enzymatic processes of ripening, spoilage, etc. Have your experiments on *overripe/about to spoil fruits, veggies* indicated that such categories of produce can be turned into dehydrated forms for later consumption? How acceptable were the organoleptic qualities in such cases of overripe fruits, etc?

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

We have not tested EVERY fruit or veggie in its' overripe state, but we have tested mangoes, and bananas, and apples and found PS coating to stop the degradation process in its tracks. Obviously the fresher, the better, but from our investigation thus far, the organoleptic properties are preserved well. Certainly acceptable. There is a limit of course, once a certain severe threshold of ripening had begun, theres nothing we can do of course.

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

Great. Bananas were particularly good candidates for testing. MIT's J-PAL  has opined extensively about the usefulness of the banana-egg diet in malnourished kid populations, and I think preserved bananas are better than no bananas in such cases. https://www.povertyactionlab.org 
Just so you know, my questions are not to put you on the spot, but to help you exercise your pitch :-)
If you would like us to collaborate, let me know.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Interesting, thank you for that. I'll certainly look into the link you sent as well!

I didn't take your questions that way at all. Thank you for being the file that helps to sharpen my blade mate. If you're interested in collaborating hit me up at chad@cornucopiagroup.org and let me know what you have in mind! 

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
Team

Hi, Chad.
Given the dehydration tech works better with sliced products than, say, whole fruits or vegetables in their natural skins, I wonder if that is part of the reason food grower/packaging companies are hesitating to invest in your processes? Basically, those companies have clients that place orders for fresh produce from them. Unless there is rising demand for dehydrated foods (which means the end consumers have to be interested in dehydrated sliced foods, too), how can you get producers excited and partnering with Cornucopia Group?

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Our process can work just fine on whole fruits, it simply takes much longer, and in general, most people want their dehydrated products in smaller pieces anyway, be they consumers, or manufacturers. Many food operations already have equipment in place for cutting and conveyance from one point to another, and implementing our process into an existing plant is much simpler and much more inexpensive than other commercial dehydration solutions such as dryers or freezers. We are opening new markets to farmers and producers. The processed fruit and vegetable market is rising beyond 319 billion globally, and it would be a shame to let farmers and producers miss out on such a great opportunity to benefit from preserving their waste products.

Photo of marco mihambo
Team

Hello! Chad! I hope you are doing fine! congratulation for your good and innovative ideas......may you please visit this https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/urban-mushroom-farms-network-for-turning-wastes-into-oyster-mushrooms and advise accordingly regarding all aspects for further improvement

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you mate. I appreciate the  kind words, and will definitely take a look at your proposal! Thanks for sharing. I'm a big fan of most all things mushroom.

Photo of Patrick Anucha
Team

Hi Chad, your innovation seems to  awesome and can gain global recognition.Our organisation will be interested to evolve on this your technology and innovation.Please let us know more.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Hello Patrick, thank you for reaching out! More info can be found at cornucopiagroup.org, of course you can also email me at chad@cornucopiagroup.org 

I'm interested in learning more about you and your organization mate.

Let's solve some problems together eh?! 

Cheers,

Chad

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Chad! Congratulations on being one of the forty ideas in the refinement phase. 

Photo of Sanda Valcu-Pinkerton
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Hi Chad,
what a great idea! Food for lots of people!

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you Sanda, Thats the big idea!

Photo of Kate Rushton
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Hi Chad!

Thank you for telling us about the technology and the Cornucopia Group (http://www.cornucopiagroup.org/). 
Are the financial projects given in this link the most up to date? - http://climatecolab.org/plans/-/plans/contests/2016/waste-management/c/proposal/1330813 'What is the cost of the protein coating? Cornucopia Group has identified, and acquired the worldwide exclusive license to PS coating, the cost to coat food products is between , the cost to coat food products is between $12.50 and $18 per Kg Usage is 0.5-1.0% . For a mix of 0.5% the cost per ton at $16.00 per Kg is $80.00 per ton or 8 cents per Kg converted to lbs this equals 3.6 cents per lbs of food dehydrated. 'Costs for implementing our processes vary greatly from case to case, based on a number of variables. But our technology allows us to utilize all easy to obtain, off the shelf, and local materials. Some projects can cost 50K, others 5M. But in the right locations (anywhere central to agricultural production), and circumstances (we have buyers for all the material, which we usually do), our facilities can act as central hubs for collecting and preserving food that would otherwise be wasted.’ What are the biggest hurdles you are facing in implementing this technology? How receptive have farmers been so far?

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you for your thoughtful questions!

Yes that pricing information is correct (barring extremes of locational difficulty or risk). 

The biggest hurdle we have faced thus far, is the reluctance of food producers to invest their own funds in setting up a PS Coating operation, so we have been limited in the projects we've been able to pursue by the ammount of capital we've had access to thus far. Up till this point we have been entirely funded by close associates and ourselves, but we are ready to entertain outside capital now, as we have a slate of exciting projects awaiting us!

Thus far farmers and food producers we have spoken with and worked with are enthusiastically supportive and desirous of collaborating with us (obviously including the ones with which we are already working). But as I mentioned, many( if not most) are not willing to fund the projects themselves. So with capital, we can begin to expan aher swiftly into a great position of geographical and product diversity.

Photo of Kate Rushton
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Thanks Chad! I am fascinated with this technology. What is the largest running/operational/production cost for this technology? Is it the protein coating?

Photo of Chad Knutsen
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Hello Kate, and indeed, the coating is the largest single cost, but for example, a tilapia bi-product that is normally worth nothing to a fisherman can be converted into a product that is worth $14 dollars a pound, and it would cost less than 60 cents per pound on average to produce it...From waste. Citrus peels, apple cores, funny looking potatoes, all can become revenue. (we are not restricted of course to only dehydrating waste of course, but right at this moment, we feel that changing the relationship we have with our food waste is important, especially at the source).

Cheers,
Chad K.

Photo of Josephine Liang
Team

Sounds like win-win for everyone! I wonder if you have looked into the FoPo food powder startup? They made freeze dried powder from surplus produce, and I have tried them - absolutely delicious!

Photo of Chad Knutsen
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Hi Josephine, thank you for your comment!

I have checked out FoPo, and it's a very cool product. I would love to be in touch with them to discuss potentially utilizing one of our other technologies to micronize their powders in such a way as to not damage the cellular structure. (our mills do not use friction, or grinding or smashing to reduce particle size, rather they tease materials apart along natural structural boundaries using resonant frequency and negative air pressure.)

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
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Chad Knutsen So many of the food producers you work with depend on the DEMAND for fresh foods to keep their revenues flowing. I can see why they would be uncertain about investing in dehydrated foods, unless the dehydrated version could earn them more/enough of a price premium. Have you considered reaching out to supermarket chains and end-customers? After all, those are the folks left holding the bag (i.e. the monetary losses) when produce goes bad. 
What if supermarkets and customers could coat in the stores or at home (I mentioned this in https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/delaying-ripening-and-improving-the-shelf-storage-life-of-fruits-and-vegetables ) , and then choose to dehydrate-to-preserve using machines installed in their communities or even at the stores? I mentioned solar dehydrators and community-based shared dehydration resources in another submission ( https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/food-waste/ideas/from-waste-to-wealth-and-less-carbon-emissions-to-boot ). If I can help, let me know. Thanks and good luck.

Photo of Chad Knutsen
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Hello again, thanks for joining in the conversation!

Our approach initially is to approach primarily the nutritious, but not B to C viable bi-products in agricultural and food production. This is because

A) 30-40% of worldwide food loss occurs prior to reaching the marketplace.

B) by reducing the need to produce MORE food, because of all that loss, we are able to reduce the 500 Million hectares of land that are used annually, as well as the 45 Trillion gallons of water thats lost to produce post-harvest food waste, while removing the need to expend all that energy producing the lost food (lowering carbon emissions from the food/ag sector).

C) By reducing the need spend so much to produce wasted food, we can contribute to lower, or at least more stable food source prices, which will inevitably benefit consumers wallets as well.

D) By making more food, more nutritious, and available to more people, we feel our impact can be huge. We need good folks like yourself to help spread the word that these solutions are possible, so thank you once again for joining in the conversation, and the solution!

Cheers,

Chad K.


(and a note I had posted on our other comment stream, about a few issues with conventional drying tech: to address your message about solar drying)

"The issue with using high temperatures to dehydrate foods is that you destroy much of the cellular structure, and lose up to 50% or more of your nutritional content. This also occurs when food is exposed to significant UV radiation (ie: the sun). Also, much traditional solar drying requires large swaths of land covered in tarps etc. to facilitate the drying.

These downfalls are addressed uniquely with our PS Coating method, as we do not require extremes of heat or cold (thus, we preserve 100% of the nutritional content), or lots of land. Also, we are capable of capturing 1800 lbs of raw food per day along with up to 400 gallons of potable water every day (from the food), in each of our economical easily duplicatable, and readily scaleable setups."

Photo of Jennifer Yozamp-Metter
Team

This is pure genius! Just thinking of the possibilities and the impact this could potentially have on world hunger is very exciting!

Photo of Chad Knutsen
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Appreciate the kind words. And indeed, that's why we keep on keepin' on!

Let's hope this fine community agrees and helps us get this solution out into the world!

Cheers,

Chad

Photo of Armin Zadakbar
Team

Here in Italy there's a big demand for such solution in our farms (tomato, lemon, olive, etc.) and your technology is so promising! Hope to see this coming in Europe soon. 

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

I hope so too mate! Thank you for your support. Onward and Upward!

Chad

Photo of Molly
Team

Hi Chad Knutsen , very interesting product! I am seeking dehydrated produce for my work and so would love to chat with you. 

Photo of Chad Knutsen
Team

Thank you for reaching out! I am currently in Moscow presenting at the 33rd IASP Conference, but send me a message and we should link up when I get back next weekend! 

Cheers,

Chad
chad@cornucopiagroup.org

Photo of Leyli Norouz
Team

This really shows a lot of promise. Not only because it's already a functioning business model, but because it could clearly be expanded rapidly into a company with significant geographic and product diversity.  It seems like a major cause for a lot of food waste is that it's too expensive to preserve a lot of it, and is left to rot because when it comes to agricultural surplus it's usually been more cost effective to not-harvest it and not sell it, than to harvest it and not sell it. Cornucopia Group could truly revolutionize the relationship we have with the food wasted after harvest. Keep it up.

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