Updated: Apr 24
Why is food waste important?
Food waste is a hot topic right now and rightfully so.
Consumers, businesses and environmentally conscious folks are waking up to the fact that one-third of the food in the world is wasted. This goes far beyond just letting the milk you have in the fridge go off or tossing away your leftovers (though those things count too!) There are 815 million people going hungry across the world every day and knowing what’s going on in a food supply chain can have a huge global impact.
“Reducing food waste is one of the most important things we can do to reverse global warming.”
- CHAD FRISCHMANN, CLIMATE CHANGE EXPERT.
Food waste management is the easiest way you can help with climate change
What does food waste mean?
So what if food is going to waste? It breaks down in landfills, doesn’t it? Well, yes it does, however, the impact of that break down is more significant than most people realise. When food is rotting it emits the greenhouse gas methane, much like cars and gassy cows do. A report by NRDC states that in America alone, wasted food is responsible for the same amount of greenhouse gases as 37 million cars!
Our expectations as consumers when it comes to purchasing also leads to a mass amount of wastage. Supermarkets and other food outlets have shown that they won’t purchase ‘unattractive’ looking food, as customers expect picture-perfect products.
This is undoubtedly a cultivated belief with the average person having very little understanding of how a piece of fruit, vegetable or meat looks naturally. Note: not all apples are glossy when you pick them!
This also ties into the continual debate regarding ‘Use by’ and ‘Sell by’ dates. Though there are strict guidelines around these dates for the safety of consumers, it’s now widely regarded that sell-by dates have a large disparity with use-by dates and thus lead consumers and supermarkets to waste produce that is still useable.
Knowledge is power and JOLT_ is spreading the word for sustainable solutions
There’s also the consideration that a lot of the products we consume creates waste that is going unused. However, we are now seeing a global movement with businesses being created specifically to utilise the by-product. There have even been several pre-existing companies coming together to utilise each others’ food waste as ingredients to create their products. For example, Renewal Mill, which creates a nutritious flour out of a by-product of making tofu and soymilk.
Finally, a major global concern when it comes to food waste is what is occurring in developing countries. The cruel twist here is so many go hungry in the same country where food is being wasted. This is only worsened by the increasing amount of natural disasters and the impact of climate change. Crops are no longer surviving the seasons due to freak weather episodes and conditions.
How can we fix the food waste problem?
As they say, knowledge is power. And educating yourself and others is the key to the fight against food waste. How can we be more conscious as businesses and consumers if we don’t know that there’s a problem?
Some great businesses provide wonderful educational materials, such as the Danish company Too Good To Go, which has The Knowledge Hub. Here you can find information and inspiration about tackling food waste.
You’ll also find organisations like ReFed and Good For Food who are data analytics companies specifically focused on food waste. Their expertise and targeted research are helping businesses turn around their wastage too. CEO and Co-Founder of Good For Food, Rayner Loi, says their technology helps businesses save 30%-50% of food from wastage within the first few months of implementing their “actionable insights”.
Did you know waste is a trillion-dollar opportunity to do good?
Reducing the surplus in the western world is vital. We’re seeing moves made with supermarket giants towards educating consumers on ‘ugly produce’; such as Woolworths in Australia’s ‘The Odd Bunch’, selling odd-shaped or imperfect fruit and vegetables at a discounted rate. Even Tesco’s in the UK is launching a food waste hotline so suppliers can help track fluctuations and buyers' patterns.
Knowledge about the resources required to create a product, such as land and water, is also important for awareness. Currently, the limelight is being shone on beef as the resources required to make meat products are immense. There are many other food products that carry a large strain on resources and we need to educate ourselves on how our lifestyle choices can help.
Now that you know, it’s time to act! Businesses in this space are focussing on reducing, repurposing and redistributing existing waste while educating the masses. Here are our Top 10 Sustainable Business innovators...
JOLT_ partners with +impact startups to spread the word and tackle food waste
10 businesses and organisations tackling food waste
1. Apeel Sciences
Apeel Sciences- This super innovative product is helping increase the shelf life of produce so that less food is wasted. The invisible, plant-based coating stops food from rotting so quickly. It won Fast Company’s 2019 World Changing Ideas Awards in the Food category.
So that avocado that seems to go off STRAIGHT away? Now it can be saved! This also means less unsustainable practices when it comes to importing food, as longer shelf life means food can be imported via ship instead of planes.
2. Foodsharing Copenhagen
Foodsharing Copenhagen- One of the largest volunteer organisations in Denmark fighting against food waste. They collect food surplus from their business partnerships. They host food sharing events every Wednesday and Saturday where people can grab some free food and learn more about the impact of food waste.
3. Food Surplus Entrepreneurs Network
Food Surplus Entrepreneurs Network: European entrepreneurs- this is for you! This network is passionate about connecting like-minded businesses and individuals who are brimming with ideas, to other online food surplus entrepreneurs and events. The aim is to encourage collaboration.
The world is hungry and you can help
4. Hands for Hunger
Hands for Hunger: A company started in the Bahamas by a group of passionate students. They aim to stop ‘unnecessary hunger’ by rescuing food that would otherwise be wasted. Donating food to organisations that give those in need three nutritious meals per day.
Homebiogas A fascinating Israeli based start-up that is now turning food scraps into fertilizers and cooking gas around the globe. Their tent-like structure can go into any home to create by-product energy! The team has utilised Kickstarter to not only fund their products but also to raise awareness about their brand.
6. Last Minute Market:
Last Minute Market: Started as a project at the University of Bologna is now an entire social enterprise. They assist retailers, shops, and producers to understand their own wastage with data analysis and training. They also help by connecting those with a surplus to charities and those in need. They are now spreading their knowledge to Argentina and Brazil with two new projects.
OzHarvest- : One of Australia’s first food rescue charities. Over 3500 donor businesses and organisations now contribute their surplus food to help provide meals for the needy in communities across the country. The charity also gets involved in major events, helps with education (a new primary school program launches in 2020) and hosts charity cook-offs with local ambassadors. They’ve now gone as far as opening a rescued food supermarket in Sydney.
There is a whole ecosystem of resources out there fighting food waste
8. Think. Eat. Save (United Nations)
Think.Eat.Save: The UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge and its Save Food Initiative have led to many great campaigns and programs globally. The Think.Eat.Save Campaign is another hub providing a portal that aims to share information, news, and resources. One to check out!
9. Wtrmln Wt
Wtrmln Wtr- When the owners of this company found out that hundreds of millions of ‘ugly’ watermelon rot each season, they made it their mission to put that delicious produce to good use. Their tasty juice is now available across the United States, with the company growing 30% every year.
10. Zero Percent
Zero Percent: These “food recovery nerds” in the U.S. came together because they believe that hunger isn’t caused by lack of food supply, it’s caused by issues with distribution problem. They also have website and an app which works as a platform to connect restaurants with excess food to charities in need.
There is ONE more memorable business we wanted to promote that deserves its own mention. We recently did a Case study on the company Too Good to Go, a for-profit business that has gone global.
What can we learn from Too Good to Go?
Too Good To Go- this fantastic app allows businesses to sell excess food they would have otherwise thrown away, to customers at a discount 30 min before closing. It's the perfect example of assisting consumers in the fight against food waste.
We recently took a deep dive into Too Good to Go’s business model to better understand how entrepreneurs and start-ups can emulate this excellent model for global sustainability and business growth.
The team at Too Good to Go recognised a massive global issue and have grown at an exponential rate since their inception.
So why does that matter to you? Well, other than downloading their incredibly helpful app this is also a demonstration to businesses and entrepreneurs of how a simple idea to tackle food waste has grown to 17.2 million app downloads and 23.1 million meals saved.
Check out our 3 main takeaways from this case study...
Plant the idea and watch it grow
Too good to Go Case study - 3 Main takeaways
1. Get the word out with crowd-funding
After their ‘aha moment’, the company tested its market with a crowdfunding campaign. Campaigns such as this really demonstrate whether your idea is viable in the real world.
Through some simple social media marketing, a crowdfunding campaign can gain incredible reach and if people donate to show their support, it’s a great indication that the market wants what you have to offer.
2. People want to help- Let them help you
Once the program was off the ground, further support was shown by the number of volunteers willing to staff the organisation- many of these are now full-time employees. They partnered with major companies and events that shared their sustainability passions.
They built and nurtured this community of people backing their idea with continuous, active social media presence on a multitude of platforms. For start-up businesses, this is a free and easy way to get the word out, as well as build your community.
3. Don't underestimate the power of digital marketing
These great ideas and proven support lead to funding- another major step to growth in the digital world. Too Good to Go developed a strong business plan, a passionate team, and a viable product making their search for funding easier.
With funding and a budget for marketing- more large scale PR and publicity is possible. This kind of leverage can help take your business from local, to national, to global.
Learn more about JOLT_ Values and Mission in our Founder's Story
What JOLT_ is doing about global food waste...
We talk the talk but how are we walking the walk? JOLT_ is focussing its efforts on global sustainability by partnering with like-minded sustainable businesses. However, we have now taken this one step further by announcing our partnership with charity Food Sharing. This not-for-profit is run by activists who collect food surplus and share with citizens, unconditionally. As well as all of the proceeds of our Festive Recipe Book being donated to Foodsharing Copenhagen, we’ll also be working with the Food Sharing to create awareness content, so feel free to follow, like and share for this wonderful cause.
Knowledge is power and there are tools out there to empower a sustainable lifestyle
How your business can tackle food waste
Be aware! Start tracking places that your business or company can cut down on food waste. There are many apps and data tracking services mentioned above, that can help you with this.
Help to educate your employees and others about ways they can better understand the food waste. You can make it a game. Make in-office competitions about the best ways to tackle food waste. Don’t pick a winner though. The future of the planet is the real winner here.
You can also look up local organisations where you can donate supplies, time or cash to help the cause of fighting food waste and hunger. If there aren’t any, maybe you should start one? As you’ve seen above, fighting food waste can still turn a profit; It can be a new way to reuse a by-product, create a community, or develop a platform for food waste education. The possibilities are endless! After all, the UN stated that tackling food wastage can be a $2.5 trillion market opportunity for businesses.
By Hannah Pendlebury for JOLT_
Agfunder news: Tech reducing foods