Free Enterprise Staff  | December 18, 2014

Can Mobile Technology End Food Waste?

Roger Gordon is well known in the business world, having founded a company that successfully broke the United Kingdom’s bank-controlled ATM monopoly. Now the serial entrepreneur aims to tackle a markedly different problem with Food Cowboy, his latest venture that seeks to eliminate food waste.

Food waste is a particularly pernicious issue in the U.S., where roughly 40% of all food is wasted even though 50 million Americans don’t have access to enough food, according to government estimates. Why so much waste? While the reasons are varied, a lot of it has to do with grocery stores not accepting produce shipments that they deem less than perfect. In the following clip, Gordon explains what food waste is, why it occurs, and how mobile technology can reduce it.

This is something that bothered Gordon, whose brother is a long-haul truck driver and saw this kind of unnecessary waste firsthand. Gordon would often help his brother locate organizations that would accept food that would otherwise become waste. Eventually evolving from this side project was Food Cowboy, which uses mobile GPS technology to connect soup kitchens and food banks with surplus food.

In the following clip, Gordon explains how the company transformed from an idea into an actionable business, one that is quickly spreading across the U.S.

Food Cowboy’s website enables companies, truck drivers, and nonprofits to connect with one another. In doing so, Gordon says, it has effectively surmounted a significant hurdle, one that has long troubled advocates working to cut food waste. Besides the unique approach it takes to preventing food from going uneaten, Food Cowboy also distinguishes itself from other similar groups thanks to its business model. Gordon explains the company’s singular strategy in the following clip.

By eliminating the high cost and hassle that has historically thwarted food donation initiatives, Food Cowboy has seen its user base grow exponentially over the past year. The company has, moreover, already attracted attention outside of its chosen sector. That’s because outside groups are increasingly dreaming up innovative ways to use the Food Cowboy platform to address other societal problems. Here, Gordon discusses one of the systemic problems Food Cowboy is also helping solve.

With Food Cowboy continuing to gain users as well as media attention, Gordon is continuing to fine-tune the company’s strategy and the technology that underpins it. Given the explosion of data and its increasing role in improving business over the past few years, Food Cowboy is the latest in a line of businesses that has the ability to help allay serious problems that have long plagued society. In the following clip, Gordon explains how data collection and analysis will continually allow the company to become more specialized—and more effective.