IBM Food Waste Hackathon | Virtual Hackathon | July 25 - Aug 23, 2019

JULY 25th – AUGUST 23rd 2019 | VIRTUAL HACKATHON | 18+ Event


Did you know that last year, supermarkets threw away approximately 16 billion pounds of food?

That's the weight of nearly 35,000 Statues of Liberty! It's estimated that up to half of that food is still edible. These are eye-opening numbers when we consider that 23.5 million Americans lack access to fresh produce, either due to high prices or because there's no grocery store in their neighborhood. The problem is a complex one - involving not just the grocers, but government and the entire chain from farmers to the forks of every consumer. Moreover, consumers increased demand for "fresh" products, in ever more convenient methods, is seemingly in direct opposition to practices that would seem to mitigate waste.
What makes the quest to waste reduction so ambitious, but uniquely positioned for technology's guidance? One reason is that data lies at the heart of the problem. In many cases today, the data around a product's age, origin, condition and journey lies with different parties or isn't being tracked at all. Without visibility into this information, it's hard for any partner in the chain to optimize how they sell, fulfill and plan with waste reduction in mind.
So, the question becomes, how do we tackle this information complexity and human expectation in the journey to be more responsible stewards of the environment and our society? That's where you come in!



  • Cash Prize: $ 3,000.00
  • Showcase your idea at the IBM sponsored lounge at Groceryshop
  • Attend a private dinner with Grocery leaders and IBM


  • Cash Prize: $ 1,500.00

The Challenge

Create a solution that will dramatically reduce waste through grocery and food chains. We want you to be creative in your approach, but here are a few areas to get your thoughts going:

Delight the Consumer: What is fresh?

It?s estimated that nearly half the food wasted each year is edible. Can we get better at determining what is good and what isn?t? Could visual recognition help us better understand when to harvest, sell, donate or compost foods?

Access Code:

Create an iOS app that uses built-in and custom classifiers with Watson Visual Recognition
Use IBM Watson? Visual Recognition to showcase various built-in and custom classifiers on IBM Cloud using an iOS app built using Swift. A user can open the app on an iOS-based mobile phone and choose the different classifiers (faces, explicit, food, etc.) they want to use, including custom classifiers.

Create an Android calorie-counter app with Watson Visual Recognition
Captured food images are identified and processed so that nutritional information can be generated and displayed. The server app will run on IBM Cloud? and will interact with the Watson Visual Recognition service. Nutritional data about the food item will then be acquired from the Nutritionix API service and displayed back to the user?s mobile device.

Create a mobile app with visual recognition capabilities leverage Watson Visual Recognition
This code pattern gives you the foundation you need to start creating an app that uses Watson Visual Recognition immediately. Or, you can copy and paste the code into an existing application. The Code Pattern lets you select a photo, then it presents labels with tags that relate to that photo along with the accuracy of that tag.

Run serverless functions with image recognition
This application demonstrates using Cloud Functions, based on Apache OpenWhisk, to get an image from a Cloudant database and classify it through a Watson Visual Recognition service. The code pattern demonstrates how actions work with data services and execute logic in response to Cloudant events.

Create opportunity for every consumer: Nourishing food deserts

Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up a full and healthy diet. Rural, minority, and low income areas are often the sites of food deserts because they lack large, retail food markets and have a higher number of convenience stores, where healthy foods are less available. Studies have shown that food deserts can negatively affect health outcomes but more research must be done to show how that influence occurs. There appears to be a link between access to affordable nutritious foods and the eating of these foods, meaning less access may lead to less incorporation of healthy foods into the populations? diets. How can we help facilitate the flow of nutritious fresh foods to these places without adding waste?

Access Code:

Create visualizations to understand food insecurity
This pattern walks you through how to make a real impact and educate others by visualizing our insights and predictions that have the most power to do social good, with IBM Watson Studio, pandas, PixieDust, and Watson Analytics.

Informational Links:
Produce visualizations for US food insecurity using IBM Data Science Experience, PixieDust, and Watson Analytics (video)Technology to combat the problem when people do not have consistent access to affordable, nutritious food

Connecting consumers and communities: To donate, or not to donate?

Lots of grocers want to donate food before they become waste, but sometimes finding recipients nearby is hard and can take time. Could we make the connection between donor and recipients faster and easier?

Access Code:

Build a blockchain network for trusted IoT
In this pattern, you will build a Hyperledger Fabric network where you will store IoT sensor data (such as temperature, and other food attributes), and a UI where you can see the sensor data history.

Analyze historical shopping data to help predict and prevent waste
Analyzing shopping data can give you a lot of information about customers and products. Although it can give you details about what customers are looking for, often it can be difficult to pull together and analyze the data that you need. Instead of relying on spreadsheets to analyze your data, this code pattern explains how you can analyze historical shopping data in a Jupyter Notebook with the open source Python packages Apache Spark and PixieDust.

Deploy a blockchain network to regulate food shipments along a supply chain
In this developer code pattern, you?ll learn how to use a Hyperledger Fabric network to model food supplier verification regulatory requirements for a distributed business network. What could this also tell us about food status to reduce waste?

Informational Links:
Chatbot aids in supplying food when natural disaster strikes
Learn how chatbots can help get food to places quickly. This could be applied to transporting food to charity before it spoils.


Code Patterns -?CLICK HERE

Code Patterns – Retail -?CLICK HERE

Example Open APIs
IBM Developer – CLICK HERE

Data Sets

  • Socioeconomic Data
    A Data Center in NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) ? Hosted by CIESIN at Columbia University
  • Census Data
    Access data through products and tools including data visualizations, mobile apps, interactive web apps and other software.
  • Global Health Observatory data repository
    WHO’s gateway to health-related statistics for more than 1000 indicators for its 194 Member States.
  • Food Environment Atlas
    Includes over 275 variables, including new indicators on access and proximity to a grocery store for sub-populations.


Coding may begin on July 25th (12:00 AM PST) | Coding must stop on August 23rd (11:59 PM PST)

Thursday, July 25th: Event Kickoff

8:30 10:00 PM EST Pre-IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon Virtual Session via Zoom
Speaker: John Walicki (Senior Technical Services Manager, CTO IoT Developer Advocacy, IBM Cognitive Applications)


Wednesday, July 31st: Challenge 1 / Tech Webinar

8:30 10:00 PM EST Pre-IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon Virtual Session via Zoom
Speaker: John Walicki (Senior Technical Services Manager, CTO IoT Developer Advocacy, IBM Cognitive Applications)


Wednesday, August 7th: Challenge 2 / Tech Webinar

9:00 10:30 PM EST Pre-IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon Virtual Session via Zoom


Wednesday, August 14th: Challenge 3 / Tech Webinar

8:00 10:30 PM EST Pre-IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon Virtual Session via Zoom

Due to technical difficulties during the recording the technology portion of the call can be viewed HERE.

Judging Criteria

Each submission will be scored in each round based on the following criteria with a minimum score of 0 and maximum score of 25 points, with the final score being the average of the judges? scores:

Simplicity (5 points):

Is the application simple to use and can the team explain it clearly in three sentences or less?

Creativity (5 points):

How creative was the team in developing an innovative solution for the challenge?

Impact (5 points):

Did the team create an application that can have a real and valuable impact?

Technology Usage (5 points):

Did the team create an application using IBM APIs?

Design/Visualization (5 points):

Was the UX/UI intuitive and appealing?


John Walicki - Senior Technical Staff Member, CTO IoT Developer Advocacy

John Walicki

Senior Technical Staff Member, CTO IoT Developer Advocacy

Nivi Chakravorty - Director, North America Retail, CPG, Travel & Transportation Marketing

Nivi Chakravorty

Director, North America Retail, CPG, Travel & Transportation Marketing

Adam Cairns - Walmart VP, US Flow Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning

Adam Cairns

Walmart VP, US Flow Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning

Kari Armbruster - Zero Hunger, Zero Waste Project Manager at The Kroger Co

Kari Armbruster

Zero Hunger, Zero Waste Project Manager at The Kroger Co


  • Teams of up to 5 participants are allowed. All team members must have completed the participation agreement to compete.
  • Participants of this hackathon must be 18 years or older and are current residing in the United States of America.
  • You may not begin your project until the competition officially begins. Please don’t come in and build on top of previous projects if you want to win.
  • Winning teams will be subject to a code-review at some point following the event or immediately before winning.


Who Can Participate?

Individuals who are 18+ and are currently residing in the United States.

How are Teams Formed?

After signing up you will receive a link to the Food Waste Slack channel where you can chat with other participants and ask questions.?

How will my project be judged?

Your project will be submitted and judged through: ?

What is the Fresh Code Rule?

All code developed as part of the IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon must be fresh. Before the start of the IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon, developers can create wireframes, designs and user flows. They can also come with hardware. But to keep things fair, all code must be written onsite at the IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon. Other than that, almost anything goes and you can use any coding languages or open-source libraries.

What are the Pre-IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon Virtual Sessions?

The Pre-IBM Food Waste Virtual Hackathon sessions are a virtual session hosted via Zoom. All developers, designers and entrepreneurs are invited to join the sessions. IBM and AngelHack will go over the challenge, introduce their technology and answer any questions to help ensure an amazing experience.? This would also be a great opportunity for idea vetting.

Who Owns the IP and Participation Agreement?



Participants own the rights to their projects they create at the Hackathon. Your team may create a prototype using data and/or API?s provided by The Sponsor and/or its Partner. This could mean that you or a teammate created the Technology, acquired ownership of the Technology from a third party, or may rely on binding written statements by the third party that owns or has the right to license the Technology indicating that you (or members of the public generally) are authorized to use that Technology in the manner you intend to use it. Your team will be disqualified if The Sponsor has any reason to believe that your team has violated the terms of this paragraph. You should consult with appropriate advisors or legal counsel if you have any doubt as to whether you are meeting the requirements of this paragraph. “Technology” means, without limitation, content (including pictorial, audio and audio-visual content), code, specifications, technical information, algorithms, images, design, art, music, graphics, SFX, data, and any other information or materials protected by any intellectual property right. Your team may bring to the Hackathon any pre-developed or licensed Technology that you plan to use in connection with your prototype, provided that such Technology meets the requirements of this paragraph.


By participating in the Hackathon, you will receive access to certain proprietary software, APIs, and/or other copyrighted materials, including pictorial, audio, video and/or audio-visual content owned by the Sponsor or its affiliates, partners or licensors.