Johan Lundberg has been an entrepreneur for 25 years. He’s founded numerous companies, experienced exits, and also some failures. He manages two companies now. Both aim to reduce the human impact on climate change. The one we’re hearing about today is Grace Organic.
For the uninitiated, there is an oft-quoted fact to help us visualise the huge problem of food waste on a global scale. If food waste was a country, based on emissions, it would be the third largest country in the world after the US and China.
“Every 10 seconds, 30,000 animals die. It’s an enormous amount and the problem is, in the US and Europe, we are not using them” Johan explains. What he is referring to is the wastage that comes from choosing choice cuts. The huge demand for fillet and sirloin over secondary cuts that require longer preparation and cooking time, means that more animals are brought to slaughter in order to fulfill our consumer demands. He is also pointing the finger at unnecessary food waste — the food we take too much of and end up scraping into the bin, the overzealous preparation that no one eats, the meals that are discarded because of improper handling, storage, or preparation.
“If we could decrease food waste by 1%, we could save 900,000 lives per day,” he reasons. “It’s an enormous waste. What is actually more scary is that 1kg of food waste is 1.7kg of carbon footprint.”
The technology that Johan’s company Grace Organic uses was developed in Sweden in 1997. Panasonic had the foresight to invest 5M SEK into the company and now it produces machines to track, educate, and process food waste.
“What we are trying to do is to deliver superior technology to reduce food waste and the carbon footprint. If we can cut food waste from Swedish schools by 30 grams per person per day, we can save 2,000 tonnes of food waste per year.”
“Our technology, this is not rocket science. It’s a touchscreen attached to a scale on the floor. You build your own process in the kitchen. It lets every kitchen understand that today we threw 8,000 SEK away. Yesterday we threw 10,000 SEK away. Our new system allows the customer to grow into it and that’s important.”
With Grace Organic, Johan hopes to increase people’s awareness of food waste and to reduce carbon footprints. His company has seen food waste reductions of up to 40% in schools where the tech has been placed. Right now, he is looking for entrepreneurs who want to work with food waste, to visit clients, and learn about the business. His company is also open to investment proposals.
Johan sees change as a long process, and a challenge that most companies that try to do good will face. “I didn’t know when I jumped into this that it would take so long. Municipalities have different priorities and I understand if they are maybe not putting their focus into this.”
While the technology seems rock solid, there are loose ends that need addressing. Organisations that install the composting machine are expected to package and sell the compost that feeds out of the machine on a weekly basis, and production costs are high. Johan believes that his customer base would need to double too, before orders start coming in.
“Food waste is a big thing. You learn both about your clients and about their challenges and offer new products and features. We need to navigate everyday. Things are changing very quickly. In 2016, we as human beings have already used more resources than our planet can renew. I invite you all to do whatever it takes. I’m trying.”
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Stockholm Food Movement is a new initiative designed to bring education for sustainable development to the people of Stockholm. Our events aim to inspire the future leaders and changemakers of the food industry.