London launch for Swedish food waste app helping restaurants sell discount surplus food
Swedish food waste app Karma has landed in the UK, with 50 of London’s restaurants and eateries signing up for the opportunity to sell surplus food to the public and reduce the amount of edible food needlessly thrown away.
Launched in London yesterday (15 February), the app has gone from strength to strength following its initial rollout across 35 cities in Sweden as it seeks to take a bite out of the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that goes to waste globally every year.
Restaurants, bars and hotels pose a particular problem, with 600,000 tonnes a year going to the waste in the UK through this avenue at a total cost of £17 billion, which makes Karma’s new partnerships with establishments such as Aubaine, Hummus Bros, The Quality Chop House and Aquavit all the more significant.
The app works on the basis that restaurants that often have an excess of pre-prepared dishes can list their surplus food on the app, which then sends notifications to nearby users when produce is listed by the restaurants. These meals can be purchased at a 50 per cent discount on the retail price, with Karma receiving 25 per cent of the sale price.
Karma was founded in Sweden in 2016 by Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, Ludvig Berling, Elsa Bernadotte and Mattis Larsson and has gone on to accrue 250,000 users and around 1,000 food partners in Sweden. While the majority of partner companies are restaurants, 20 per cent are grocery stores, a figure that is expected to increase in the coming years as co-founder Elsa Bernadotte revealed to Bloomberg that talks were progressing with a number of supermarkets, with a partnership in sight for the end of the year.
Karma co-founder Elsa Bernadotte elaborated to Bloomberg on the expansion of the app into the London market: “The problem of food waste is very big here, so it’s a huge market for us. London has an established food culture, a high degree of digitization, and is getting increasingly environmentally conscious.”
Following its London launch, Karma joins a host of other apps taking on food waste, such as Too Good To Go, which links customers to restaurants with excess food and allows them to order the surplus food at a discounted price, and OLIO, which connects app users to excess home-grown vegetables, food nearing its sell-by date in local shops, and any unwanted food in households.
One app has attempted to directly address the issue of food waste in restaurants, with Winnow launching its Winnow Waste Monitor app, which helps chefs cut food waste by ‘up to a half’ by automatically recording how much food they throw away, while some supermarkets have already got on board with apps such as Neighbourly, which connects supermarkets to local food charities and community groups in order to redistribute surplus food to those in need.