New research unveils areas ripe for innovation to eliminate food insecurity
AgriNovus Indiana-commissioned study shows tech-enabled food access, connectivity to food networks essential to food-insecure populations
INDIANAPOLIS (April 5, 2023) — AgriNovus Indiana, an initiative to grow the state’s agbioscience economy, released new research today identifying the need for new technologies to drive connectivity between food access and populations experiencing food insecurity.
Conducted by the Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability at Purdue University, the study entitled Tackling and Solving Food Insecurity with Private Sector Innovations, identified factors contributing to food insecurity, populations most widely affected and recommendations for private sector innovation to help hungry populations.
“Combatting food insecurity requires a portfolio of solutions, and it’s clear that innovation presents tremendous opportunity to unlock new ability to better connect food supply with food demand,” said Mitch Frazier, president and CEO of AgriNovus Indiana.
The research shows food insecurity in Indiana rose from 9.4 percent in May 2020 to 13.4 percent in December 2022, all at a time when food prices have increased at their fastest rate in 40 years. The factors contributing to food insecurity are complex and interrelated, including poverty, unemployment, low wages, limited access to healthy and affordable food, broadband connectivity and the high cost of housing, transportation and health care.
The study unveils areas ripe for private sector innovation to eliminate food insecurity, including:
1. Develop innovative food access solutions for targeted populations: food insecurity is more concentrated among rural, low-income, minority and older populations with 23 percent of rural respondents surveyed reporting being food insecure. There is an opportunity to target and tailor solutions for improving food access via food affordability, distribution, grocery access or transportation.
2. Empower consumers to make healthy choices: develop technology solutions that can help consumers make sense of the healthfulness and affordability of products, as product labeling may be too confusing for some consumers. Focus on research and development of nutrient-dense and affordable food options, identify behavioral marketing solutions that encourage healthy eating habits and collaborate with healthcare providers to integrate nutrition into medical treatment plans.
3. Connect consumers to food networks: increase the availability of healthy and affordable food options in low-income communities through food assistance programs like food hubs, farmers markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA). Startups may identify a technology or connectivity solution that can help food-insecure households more easily join food hubs or CSAs or connect consumers with food sources in the local economy that might otherwise go to waste.
4. Create analytics around food insecurity: use data and research insights to help companies and nonprofit organizations understand food business practices and product offerings and whether specific programs are reliably helping to promote food security and improve health outcomes.
“Food insecurity continues to affect targeted populations in Indiana and beyond,” said Dr. Jayson Lusk, distinguished professor and department head of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. “With its strength in tech and ag, Indiana is well positioned to develop private-sector innovations that continue to chip away at this pervasive issue that deters better health outcomes for all.”
The study coincides with the launch of AgriNovus Indiana’s 2023 HungerTech Challenge that tasks innovators with creating and implementing a tech-enabled business solution that connects food insecure populations to for-profit and not-for-profit food networks. To learn more about HungerTech and register a team for the Challenge, click here.
The full study, Tackling and Solving Food Insecurity with Private Sector Innovations is available at www.AgriNovusIndiana.com.
About AgriNovus Indiana
AgriNovus Indiana is a non-profit coalition of leaders across industry, academia and government focused on growing Indiana’s agbioscience economy across food, animal health, plant science and agtech. AgriNovus Indiana is part of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), an effort dedicated to the region’s continued prosperity and growth. Learn more at www.AgriNovusIndiana.com.