Back in 2014, when Somdip Dey was completing his master’s degree in Advanced Computer Science at the University of Manchester, his parents were in a tragic car accident that caused severe injuries to his mother and paralyzed his father.
“To help them cover their medical expenses I sent back all my money without thinking about whether I had enough finances to buy food for myself,” Dey says adding that he was still considered an immigrant in the UK and was not able to access any form of benefit or food bank. At that low point in life, Dey’s real journey commenced.
“To survive from hunger I ended up dumpster diving and salvaging completely edible food from bins that were thrown away by others,” reveals Dey, adding that it showed him the reality of how much food is wasted that could be consumed by others in need. Later in 2014, after graduating, he co-developed the world’s first crowd food-sharing platform that enables users to share their leftovers and food surplus with other people in need in nearby areas.
In trying to explain what he is doing, Dey goes back to his roots in Kolkata. “In India, a lot of people still live below the poverty line and, being a developing country, our mindset when it comes to food consumption is different. I was born in a humble family in the slums of India. My family worked very hard to build a better life for themselves and we never wasted food at home as we earned to put food on the table. In the west, especially in developed countries, people live for convenience rather than survival. So, the mindset when it comes to food consumption and waste is very different.”
Much like everyone else in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Dey as well. As a young professional in the West, he was working several jobs at different institutes, but most of his jobs were made redundant and he was close to bankruptcy. At that time he started several businesses to support himself financially, one of which was a blockchain-based social media network company, and the other was Nosh Technologies (also known as Nosh or Nosh Tech).
Nosh is a deep tech company developing cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and edge computing to reduce food waste.
“When the pandemic started I was facing food waste-related issues at home, especially due to the changing schedule in shopping. I used to bulk-buy a lot of food and noticed that items with shorter shelflife were difficult to manage. To find out whether others were having the same issues, I reached out to different people and realized that the problem is not just at an individual level but on a global scale,” reveals Dey.
“I quickly assembled a team from across the globe and co-developed the Nosh app, which is an artificial intelligence-powered food management app that enables consumers to optimize their food management and consumption. After the launch of Nosh, it was an instant hit, and based on the success of Nosh I co-founded Nosh Technologies with Suman Saha, a computer engineer from India,” reveals Dey.
Nosh Daily is an artificial intelligence-powered news and media content delivery platform that aims to raise awareness of the consumer on food waste and the food industry in general, while Nosh Shop enables the consumer to buy about-to-expire food and groceries at a discounted price from retailers and farmers.
Nosh has already helped more than 17,400 consumers to save more than 223,000 different food items and reduce carbon emissions by more than 131 tons.
Dey adds that he is always looking forward to helping more South Asians in the US through his organization. “I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by several industry leaders and I want to give back to society by helping youngsters by being a role model. We also hire young engineers, editors, and content creators to help them gain valuable industry experience with which they can start building their own careers in their chosen paths.”
So, is food wastage a prevalent issue in the US, even in such trying times?
“Food waste is a big issue in the US. An average family ends up wasting almost $1000 worth of food every year. Imagine if you had a family for decades then how much money and food you could save over the years if you are conscious enough. In developing countries like the US, most people are worried about other things in life than food waste,” Somdip explains, adding, “However, food waste is both a social issue and an environmental one as well. Globally more than 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, whereas more than 820 million people around the world do not have proper access to nutrition. Moreover, food wastage also contributes to almost 10% of global carbon emissions as well.”
And if you are wondering what is the relation between AI and food wastage, Dey reveals that artificial intelligence or AI is very competent in learning patterns from data, which is not possible for a single human being.
“In the food supply chain, food data from different points in the supply chain (production, processing, distribution, retail, and consumer) could be utilized by AI to learn how waste could be optimized. Hence, we are employing AI to solve the problem of food waste,” he signs off.
Umang Sharma is a media professional, avid reader, and film buff. His interests lie in making the world a better place through the power of the written word.