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Making more food available

I came across an article in The Wall Street Journal that raises concerns over the price of global food supplies.

The cause of the concern is a food price index published monthly by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.  That index has risen for six consecutive months and hit a record in December when it reached 214.7.  That topped the previous peak of 213.5 from June of 2008.

The solution is a quite passive one.  Wait for better harvests.

Anyone aware of food supplies knows that waste happens.  A lot of waste happens in underdeveloped countries where plentiful, low-priced food is needed most.

In those countries, large percentages of the crops spoil before they can be brought to market.  Refrigeration is one active answer to reduce waste, increase the available food supply and keep costs low.  But then there’s transportation.

Even in countries with highly efficient and effective food systems like the the U.S., there’s waste of temperature sensitive products due to temperature damage during shipment.  Most solutions to address in transit temperature are passive.  You learn about the damage at the end of the trip; when it’s too late to save the shipment.

An active solution is to continuously monitor and report the temperature, security and location of shipments while they are on the road.  Doing that used to be expensive.  Just like it used to cost hundreds a month to own and use a cell phone.

Like cell phones, lower cost technology, low-cost wireless communication and even cloud computing have all combined to make continuous monitoring and reporting of temperature, security and location no more costly than giving an employee a cell phone.

With global food prices high and getting higher, investing in technology that helps make more fresh, safe food available has never delivered a better return.