Project Secondfood

Around the world, unfathomable amounts of perfectly usable food ends up in trash. On average, a German citizen trashes ca. 80 kg per year of food items that were purchased in excess. About food trash in the commercial part of the food chain, there are not even reliable statistics; estimations range from 5 to 13 %. In total, about 50% of all food available in Germany is never eaten. While the reason for food waste in Western countries is mostly oversupply, food items are spoiled for example in India mostly due to missing and suitable storage spaces, cold storage areas, no working cooling chain in logistics, no reliable power supply etc..

At the same time, more then 815 million people worldwide suffer from hunger. This number had been in decline for decades, but in 2017 increased again for the first time since 1990. Currently, hunger kills more people than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

In the global market, spoiled food (resp. its pre-products and raw materials) lowers the supply and fuels the prices. Not to mention the huge amounts of unnecessarily grown animal feed, and unnecessarily raised (in intensive feeding) and slaughtered (in large scale efficient manner) animals.

The basis of the public benefit “Secondfood” concept is well-organized collection of unused food items, and setting up a highly functioning processing infrastructure geared towards public benefit. This enables (everywhere on the globe) the professional and economical re-processing and further processing of food items that would have been disposed, yielding robust food items that are storable for long durations at room temperature. The goal is to provide people without employment options a new way to supply for their own living, by facilitating the direct sale of the food items created in this way.

Four examples of how this system is applied:

1. Fruits

After transport (under food-grade hygiene conditions), the produce can be automatically sorted using a machine with a similar design as the optical coffee sorter initiated by Fairdirect e.V.. These and similar machines allow to economically separate good and bad food items of any kind. The good-to-use fruits obtained in this way can for example be preserved as jam, or processed into juice, concentrated juice, or dried fruits, all of which are long-term storable.

2. Bread

Dried bread cannot get mouldy. Unsold bread would be transported (again under food-grade hygiene conditions), automatically optically inspected by a machine, and dried to obtain optimum moisture conditions for storage. In this form, it can be stored easily without cooling on the long term. This allows exporting it as support for regions with socioeconomic issues, or to process it further into (for example) breadcrumbs used for cooking. It can also be “reactivated” to become “fresh” bread simply by applying water and heat.

3. Vegetables

Not straight enough, too big, too small or too much. Commercial trade has strict requirements for naturally grown products, such as vegetables. Rejects are disposed of. Again, for redistribution or further processing, a suitable collection logistics is essential. Vegetables can be sorted and processed for example into vegetable soup, either preserved in cans or dried into instant soup. Many fruit and vegetable items that are no longer suitable for human consumption can still be processed into seeds.

4. Meat

Meat can be easily canned in glasses or metal cans. The most important part is here to rescue and preserve the meat, avoiding the senseless death of very many animals. Obviously, collection and transport in suitable containers is very important here, including an uninterrupted cooling chain. Canned meat is good to consume for a minimum of one year, and can also be further processed after opening the can. In addition, drying is a good preservation option, due to the huge mass reduction very suitable as preparation for long transports without cooling.


In all cases, coordinated local collection and (if necessary) refrigerated transportation is used to bring surplus food to a regional processing central. Here, they are processed into robust products with a long shelf life and without the need for refrigeration. Where this is impossible, they are immediately redistributed as gratis food items in the region.

Options for coordinated collection:

  • Disposal companies can offer a suitable collection system in parallel to their existing collection bins resp. containers, dedicated to rescuing food items from commercial entities and households. It is important to label the collected item properly: “trash” always has to be disposed of, but if the items are collected as “food”, redistribution and further processing is possible without any legal issue.
  • Food retail shops can offer consumers an option to drop surplus food, as an alternative to trashing it. A suitable incentive could be a coupon system by which users are granted discounts on products created out of the surplus food. The collection points could look similar to those for returnable bottles, or items would be picked up directly at consumers when combining with the regional delivery of food ordered online.

Food products produced this way from surplus could be used to alleviate hunger around the world. Alternatively, they could be sold “normally” under the brand Secondfood, emphasizing the sustainable origin and the not-for-profit production.

Options for sale and marketing:

  • Sale via existing food retail shops, or via a dedicated online marketplace.
  • Worldwide direct trade, facilitated by the robust properties of the food products (long shelf life without cooling). In addition, seeds derived from surplus food can further strengthen this worldwide direct trade infrastructure, which can be the basis for long-term, fair and direct global collaboration.
  • Still good-to-eat food items that cannot be processed into storable products are regionally distributed by public benefit organizations to everyone who wants them.

This not-for-profit concept “Secondfood” fights food waste and supports economically disadvantaged people, worldwide. Only in this way, it can be guaranteed that nobody will indirectly make undue profit from these food items, and that “Secondfood” as brand for sustainable food will not eventually be abused by normal food items simply branded “Secondfood”. Instead, processing our food surplus directly benefits those currently on the losing side of the worldwide economic system.

Fairdirect e.V. association members come from different backgrounds, and are open to work with anyone and everyone sharing the association’s goals, independent of their personal convictions and affiliations. Personally, for several of us in the core team, our moral measure are Christian values, and our basis is respect, love for our neighbors, and trust in Jesus Christ, to achieve a fair and direct relationship to our trade partners worldwide.

Together, we want to help practically according to biblical values, as taught by Jesus Christ for example in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Everyone who wants to contribute on this basis is much welcome to get in touch.