At the 2015 FMI/GMA Global Sustainability Summit in Denver today, Food Cowboy announced an initiative that promises to revolutionize the way food banks work with produce growers and to help them secure millions of pounds of wholesome fresh fruit and vegetable donations for Americans in need.
Nearly four billion pounds of wholesome fresh produce is rejected at loading docks each year, often due to damage incurred in transit. Growers would prefer to donate that food but often cannot find local food banks in time and, when they do, the charities are often closed or lack sufficient cold storage capacity. Food Cowboy, a sustainable technologies company whose free app and cloud-based tools help food companies route surplus inventory to charities, has found a way around these problems.
To better protect their fruits and vegetables, growers increasingly are shipping them in leased Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) and on high-quality CHEP and PECO pallets. The approximately 100 million RPCs in circulation take the place of 400 million single-use cardboard boxes each year while the CHEP and PECO pallets help replace nearly 80 million single-use pallets.
Beginning this fall, in an exclusive arrangement with Food Cowboy, when growers use Food Cowboy to donate food, the RPC and pallet companies will pay Food Cowboy a small fee to track their goods, and Food Cowboy will pay the food banks a small fee to store them until they can be retrieved. The funds will help food banks build more cold storage capacity and extend their hours of operation so they can work more efficiently with growers and other supply chain companies.
Jerry Welcome, president and CEO of the Reusable Packaging Association says, “It’s a win for everyone. Growers can donate more food and food banks get funds to expand their operations. It’s the new sustainable economy.”
Growers can also use Food Cowboy to find buyers for imperfect produce, such as Daily Table, the new low-cost supermarket featuring “ugly” produce recently opened in Boston by former Trader Joe’s CEO Doug Rauch. “Food Cowboy,” he says, “provides a much needed and innovative platform. We look forward to working closely with them as a key resource.”
Consumers can support the program by looking for the “Nothing Goes to Waste” promise seal wherever they buy fresh produce. The red and white seal means the food has been shipped under no-waste conditions. By supporting growers and retailers who display the seal, consumers will also be supporting food banks and their neighbors in need.
About Food Cowboy
Originally developed for truckers, Food Cowboy has grown into a comprehensive sustainability solution that reduces hunger as well as food, water and landfill waste and helps cut greenhouse gas emissions. It has been recognized for innovation by the USDA, the EPA, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program. The free Food Cowboy app is available in the app stores today. For more information visit FoodCowboy.com.