Digitalization can help feed the hungry

Mikko Jaatinen at the CFS 46 in Rome

By Mikko Jaatinen, Founder and CEO of JAMIX

World Food Progamme

WFP – World Food Programme, is an organization under UN – United Nations.

It is present in any major human crisis you can read on global media at any given time, such as Syria right now, feeding people in despair – providing emergency food assistance.

Another main focus for WFP is National School Feeding programs.

WFP is working in 80 countries and feeds 80 million school children. These countries are poor or for other reasons not capable of doing it themselves.

Challenges in producing food in big scale

The challenges in the operations are familiar to anyone trying to provide food on daily basis to hundreds or thousands of people.

How to plan a versatile menu that is nutritious but simultaneously cost-efficient and sustainable. That is challenging and a hard task. Ingredient costs fluctuate and calculating recipe and menu costs is time consuming if not even practically impossible without a digital system. But it gets even more complex with allergens and different diets just to name few.

Food waste happens in many phases of the food production process, all creating huge environmental effects and obviously losing money every time food is thrown away or lost unnecessarily. Is the number of meals correct? Can I scale the recipe according to the right portion size? Do I know how much of each ingredient should be ordered from the suppliers? Do I know the inventory at the moment? Do we have standardized recipes so the cooks can follow planned menu and recipes?

Finland has been offering free school lunch for over 70 years

In Finland every schoolchild has been offered a free and nutritious school meal for over 70 years. When the school lunch system started, Finland was a poor country. The offering was more porridges and soups, but still, every child got a meal at school.

School lunch has huge benefits from many aspects. Obviously a hungry child gets fed and is healthier and happier. Better learning results is a major return of this investment. It is quite obvious that Finland’s rise to the very top of the world in many different categories such as education and quality of life, is based on free nutritious school lunches for everyone. Finland is now a rich country.

Working for digitalization for 30 years

For already 30 years I have been tackling those challenges, in big scale food production, by digitalization.

Significant results can be achieved quickly and the opportunities to improve these processes are endless with the help of IT.

Kitchen Intelligence System can answer “Yes” to all of the above questions, and do even much more.

CFS side event in Rome

Finland was presenting its school lunch achievements in Rome Italy at the side event of CFS – Committee on World Food Security on October 17th, 2019.

I was privileged to be invited by Finnish government to Rome and be a member of the panel in the event.

I was simultaneously proud to present my experience and knowledge in a field where I have worked for such a long time – Solving problems and thinking of ever better solutions for feeding people.

I had great separate talks with stakeholders such as Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, Carmen Burbano de Lara as well as Sandra Westlake and Maria Jose Rojas of WFP, and Marjaana Manninen of Finnish Government.

Small change, big impact

I am sure that digitalization will help the world feed better even the poorest ones.

Even small steps in digitalization will have big impacts. Just having recipes in a digital system allows them to be scaled, to have accurate amounts for production, to follow nutrition and costs. Great digital systems do much more. But there are obviously huge opportunities to take digitalization even further, building eco-systems, presenting AI and giving ever more vital and useful information for daily processes and decision making.

Partnerships and co-operations with different stakeholders – governments, UN, WFP, businesses and individuals – are vital.

But especially important is will to do it.

I have that will!

Mikko Jaatinen

Founder, CEO of Jamix

Case study of Finland’s school feeding