A new app seeks to reduce the amount of food wastage we throw away on a daily basis. Olio, created by Tessa Cook, gives you the chance to get rid of your spare food without wasting it.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Association, or FAO, says that we could reduce food waste by a quarter and have enough food to feed every single person in the world who is malnourished. With such lofty goals in mind, a new piece of technology could make it possible for us to achieve just that.
A Digital Revolution
Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One, co-founders of Olio, hope that the app will encourage food sharing between neighbours and local businesses. It’s fairly simple to use: you just add a photo of your excess food, a description, and a price, then let people know when and where they can pick it up.
If you’re on the lookout for food, you can check the app to see what is available nearby. Once you see something that you like, get in touch via private messaging and arrange the drop. That’s it.
“I’m a farmer’s daughter, and so have always hated throwing away good food, because I know from first-hand experience just how much hard work goes into producing it,” says Ms Cook. “The inspiration for Olio came when I was moving country and found myself on moving day with some good food that we hadn’t managed to eat, but that I couldn’t bring myself to throw away. And so I set off on a bit of a wild goose chase to try and find someone to give it to, and I failed.”
The app was launched in January, and has since seen some healthy success: it has been downloaded 50,000 times, and users are getting stuck in. Over 250,000 transactions have already taken place, which is a good start – but perhaps not yet enough. The founders aim to launch in 33 more countries throughout the year, giving the users a much wider field to play with.
More needs to be done, say the experts, as households in the UK are apparently throwing away more than £12 billion worth of edible food every year. The average family will lose £700 as a result.
The biggest culprit is the hospitality sector, along with supermarkets. In the developed world, £57 billion is thrown away in this sector annually. Now restaurant owners, chefs, and management teams can do a little bit more to help combat this problem, with a new piece of software from tech company Winnow.
They have developed a cloud-based software for commercial kitchens, allowing them to record food wastage on the go. This then helps to analyse the production process, giving a better idea of how to avoid similar problems in the future and cut down on wastage.
“Food waste in the hospitality sector is an age old problem,” says David Jackson, business development manager at Winnow. Our data shows that 10%-to-20% of all food purchased by kitchens can be wasted, which is obviously a huge cost. Food waste can actually cost as much as kitchens make in net profits.”
Over 200 kitchens now use Winnow, with the firm stating that they can cut food waste in half.
Waste at the Source
Meanwhile, VitalFields is using software to analyse the growth of food, from sowing to fertilisation to the end results. They intend to cut down on wastage right at the source, in the supply chain. “Thanks to our advisory service we’ve stopped tens of tonnes of nitrogen from being washed down into the ground water at just one farm. And the farmer saved money,” they say.