information for transformational people

OLIO 246Aiming to help one billion people reduce food wastage 

From an article by Digital Agenda

In the UK, home food waste is worth £800 a year to the average family, rising to $2,275 (around £1,780) in the US. Globally, the value of wasted food is worth over $1 trillion (around £780bn) a year. And with 2.2 billion people set to join the planet by 2050, there is a clear need to increase global food production while preventing wastage to mitigate an impending global crisis.

Founded in 2015, Olio has developed an app that prevents food waste by connecting neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. To date, almost 2.5 million portions of food have been shared through Olio’s app by more than 1.4 million users.

Co-founder Tessa Clarke came up with the idea of an online marketplace for food sharing when packing up to return the UK after living in Switzerland. After failing to give away leftover food to a neighbour, she knew that something had to be done. “I was brought up on a farm so I know how much hard work goes into producing the food we eat every day,” she says. “Throwing it in the bin seemed equally criminal to smuggling the food in my packing boxes.”

They developed an app which puts the community at the heart of Olio’s model. People can share unwanted food by uploading a picture of it to the app, which sends an alert to neighbours who can browse and request to pick up supplies. The service is free for both parties.

Olio began generating revenues last year by recruiting volunteers called Food Waste Heroes to pick up unsold food from local businesses, take it home and distribute it to local communities via the app. It’s a more sustainable alternative for those businesses, which would usually pay waste contractors to take that food to a landfill. Instead, they pay Olio, which counts Pret A Manger, Selfridges and Virgin Trains among its biggest clients.

Food Waste Heroes hated food waste, therefore they didn’t generate much of it themselves. Local outlets provide waste food to match their motivation.

Olio has grown to a team of 20 “mission-obsessed” people representing 15 nationalities. Taking Olio to a “mainstream” audience is a key ambition for its founder in 2020. The company runs an Ambassador Programme which invites its users to become ‘digital’ or ‘community’ ambassadors, evangelising for the company and its mission online or in their local community. More than 40,000 people have joined to date.

Tessa comments, "We often say that our largest competitor is the rubbish bin, so we need to provide an experience that is just as convenient but more importantly feels great and is super social, fun and easy. We want a lot more people using the app and sharing food. Once we’re at scale, then the impact we’ll be able to have will be transformational.”

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From an article by Digital Agenda, 07/01/2020

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