Therefore, Naemeka Ikegwonu decided to take a new approach to food waste. He is the founder of Cold Hubs, offering solar-powered food storage units designed for markets and farms.
Officially launched in 2015, Cold Hubs currently owns 54 units in 22 states in Nigeria. With more than 5,250 smallholders, retailers and wholesalers using refrigerated rooms, in 2020 the company stored 40,000 tonnes of food, reduced waste and increased farmers’ profits.
“This is a food intended for human consumption and is usually lost along the supply chain in harvesting, transportation or distribution,” says Ikegwuonu. “The mission is to reduce food spoilage due to a shortage of refrigerated foods at key points in the food supply chain.”
Efforts to tackle the food waste crisis
The cost of storing boxes of produce in ColdHub was about 25 cents a day, helping farmers and retailers double their monthly income. “This was achieved by selling previously abandoned produce at a reasonable price.”
Looking to the future, Ikegwuonu says Cold Hubs is also developing technology to freeze produce for the Niger Delta fishing community. “Most of the coastal areas have no energy available,” he said, adding that these freezer storage units are also capable of producing ice blocks.
“We were able to create about 66 new jobs for women,” he says. “Many of these women are empowered and changing agents in their homes and communities.”
Ikegwuonu says the current focus is on expanding business in Nigeria, but over the next decade, we are looking at other countries suffering from similar food waste problems.
“Our big dream is to solve the problem of food spoilage in Nigeria and expand our technology and services to other African countries with these challenges,” he says.