The project called ‘The Hive’ is involved in processing surplus food, which has been received from our local farmers, retailers and national distributers. During 2019 the food was processed using the military kitchen within RNAS CULDROSE (Royal Navy Air Station near Helston, Cornwall); it was converted into healthy nutritious meals, blast chilled, vacuum packed and distributed to those aforementioned charities.
The unique public benefit and value-add of our novel process is in extending the useful life of waste food (10 million tonnes per year in UK) and diverting waste food from landfill, so at the same time reducing the contribution of that waste food to greenhouse gas and feeding those suffering food poverty. We envisage a ‘centre of excellence’ hub initially in Cornwall providing employment opportuinities with satellite functions of R&D, training and community engagement. The hub will produce approximately 5 tonnes of processed food in Year 1 of the project increasing to 30-40 tonnes per month requiring 36 new jobs within 3 years.
We have already proven the process: since January of this year (2019), we have collected circa. 8 tonnes of surplus food, which has been processed into 16,000 free meals. We have prepared and redistributed this food in vacuum sealed packs which, have a shelf-life of 14 days at ambient temperature, or a year if frozen. Ordinarily this surplus food that was still fit for human consumption, would gone into either to Anaerobic digestion, biomass incineration and or landfill.
When looking at the scale of surplus food within the UK (circa 10 million tonnes, from farm to fork), the core team believes that we have developed a strategic solution, to what is an industrial problem, which has really only been treated, as a cottage industry. We have developed a process, which was inspired by military ration packs. This developed process has the very real possibility of becoming a completely new business sector; which given the right amount of focus could make a huge difference to our environment, and in doing so, feed those 1 in 4 children in Cornwall suffering from food insecurity.
Currently we are in communication with Cornwall Council, with respect to developing this project further; as the amount of food which is available to process, is more than the operational capacity of the galley kitchen within RNAS CULDROSE.
Using a veggie to protein ratio of 80:20, we have developed and taste tested, a 14 day menu cycle. This developed process, locks in the nutrition of the food, which is sealed into vacuum packs; the value added being, that very little food preparation is required by those consuming the food. Effectively we have developed a boil in the bag meal, which is contained in a 2kg durable pack, that is easily stacked and transported.
The supply of waste food from supermarkets, wholesalers and farming (to name but a few sources) is assured and demand by the needy is equally high. We aim to distribute processed food (cooked, vacuum packed and frozen) through a network of partner charities and food banks employing electric vehicles.
Reaching far beyond existing simple re- distribution of waste food to those suffering food poverty, our project:
• Will make a major contribution to the ‘climate emergency’. The Hive model will be showcased and exported throughout UK and the world
• Will make a major contribution to food poverty in UK and across the world
• While retaining the nutritional value, will have increased the life (‘use by’ date) of surplus food from a few weeks to as much as 25 years. This extension of food shelf life will have a massive impact on the carbon footprint of food distribution.
• Requires only basic understanding of cooking and a simple heat source in order to benefit from the variety of meals supplied.
• Is exploring imaginative ideas on packaging to suite the longevity of storage required.