Entrepreneurs Connect Consumers with Surplus Produce

Hazel Sheffield reported recently at The Financial Times Online that, “For Tessa Clarke, food waste is personal. The co-founder of Olio, a food-sharing app, was raised on a farm in North Yorkshire where her parents put her to work as soon as she was old enough to carry a bucket. ‘My parents had no qualms about child labour,’ she laughs. ‘My brother and I had a misspent youth working on the farm to produce food. So for me food waste is very upsetting — how would you feel if every day a third of your work was thrown away?'”

The FT article noted that, “Ms Clarke is on to something. Entrepreneurs are tapping into the food waste trend, describing it as a ‘double win:” a way to meet the need of a food producer or seller to dispose of surplus, while consumers can buy it at very reduced prices or receive it for free.

The sector has grown rapidly in the past four years thanks to the rise of sharing technology, combined with consumer demand to address waste. There are now apps that tell you when the food in your fridge is about to go off and how much you are throwing away. There are community fridges to donate to and sharing apps that send out alerts when there is surplus food available from neighbours and nearby restaurants.”

Ms. Sheffield pointed out that, “Olio says it has recruited 5,000 food waste ‘heroes,’ volunteers trained to collect surplus food from 300 stores around the UK, take pictures and post them on the Olio app, where they can be picked up by neighbours for free. ‘Our volunteers tell us it’s a life-affirming experience,’ Ms Clarke says. ‘They get to go to the stores, see all that amazing food and then give it away to the community.'”

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