Tech solutions to the food waste problem
Zero hunger by 2030 is the focus of this year’s UN World Food Day (16 October), organised every year by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The FAO estimated in its latest ‘State of Food Security’ report that over 820 million people across the world were living with chronic undernourishment, while in the UK, 4.7 million people live in severely food insecure homes, where food intake is reduced and children regularly experience hunger.
At the same time, huge amounts of edible food are wasted everyday, both at home and by retailers and producers. Around one third of all food produced for human consumption globally is lost or wasted. Total food and drink waste post-farm gate in the UK is around 10 million tonnes, 70 per cent of which could have been avoided, while households wasted a total of five million tonnes of edible food in 2015.
These figures can be overwhelming, but as part of this year’s World Food Day, the FAO is highlighting how everyone can contribute to combating hunger by reducing their own waste. To this end, a growing number of software developers are using technology to make it easier for individuals and businesses to cut down the amount of food waste they produce. Here are three companies making their mark in the world of food waste tech.
MyFoodways – Personalised recipe app
Launched today in connection with World Food Day is a new app, MyFoodways, which is designed to help individuals reduce their food waste by providing personalised and adaptable recipes based on the ingredients in their fridge.
“Many consumers are surprised to hear that the majority of food waste occurs in private households,” said Laura Robinson, App Manager at the Swiss company behind the app, Foodways Consulting AG. “Luckily there is plenty that individuals can do to make a difference. We created MyFoodways to make it as easy as possible to transform those unloved fridge leftovers into a simple, tasty midweek meal that works for everyone at the table”.
Users are asked to enter their food preferences and the ingredients they have into the app, as well as how many people they need to serve. MyFoodways will then suggest simple recipes as well as tips for keeping food fresh for longer. The app is available for free for Android and iOS devices in English, French and German.
Read more: Six apps taking the fight to food waste
Wasteless – Smart pricing for supermarkets
Founded in 2017, Wasteless is an Israeli company that has developed ‘dynamic pricing software’ to help supermarkets prevent food waste.
The software automates the price reduction process for retailers, taking into account inventory, orders, sales and expiration dates to alter the price of products via electronic shelf labels. Consumers can then make the choice to save money by choosing items that are closer to their expiration date and therefore cheaper – ultimately helping supermarkets to both streamline the price reduction process and reduce the amount of food going to waste.
One pilot case study this year shows how Wasteless implemented its process at a Spanish supermarket chain, which the company states managed to cut its food waste by one third, while bringing about a 6.3 per cent increase in revenue through more efficient management of its inventory.
The retailer could track its inventory by expiration date as well as using sales data, while employees added products to the system via a mobile app.
Ben Biron, CMO at Wasteless, commented on the trial: “Without a doubt, the most enjoyable experience during this pilot was to see everyday customers come into the store and make adapted purchase decisions based on Wasteless pricing. We inspire customers to be better citizens of the world and to take part in the war against food waste, while at the same time enjoying better prices for the same quality of tasty foods.”
The company has offices in Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and one upcoming in New York, and is currently focusing on expanding its software to a number of Western European food retailers.
Too Good To Go – Rescuing restaurant leftovers
Too Good To Go is celebrating seven million meals rescued worldwide since its launch in 2016.
Almost 900,000 edible meals are thrown out by restaurants and other food establishments in the UK every day, at an estimated cost of 97 pence per meal – a statistic Too Good To Go is looking to change with its app that allows people to get their hands on fresh, unsold meals at a reduced price.
Retailers from across eight European countries have so far signed up to the app, including YO! Sushi, AccorHotels and the Paul chain of bakeries, as well as numerous independent businesses.
Hayley Conick, UK MD at Too Good To Go, said: “No one leaves the lights on when they leave the house. Yet whether it’s in restaurants, food shops or our own homes we don’t think twice about throwing away perfectly good food. 1.6 billion tonnes of food [are] thrown away globally each year – and that’s 1.6 billion tonnes too many.
“By creating a new market for surplus food we make sure that more food gets eaten leaving businesses, consumers and the planet as winners in the process.”