In today’s world, the problem of global food waste has reached alarming proportions, leading to significant environmental, social and financial consequences. About one-third of all food produced worldwide is wasted, or nearly 1.3 billion tons per year.
Edible food is wasted on a large scale, with damaging effects on the environment, society and economies worldwide. Food waste causes greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of a major global economy and exacerbates climate change.
Wasted food contributes to water scarcity and land degradation, depleting valuable freshwater and agricultural resources. Food waste also leads to hunger and malnutrition, denying millions of people access to food.
Effective reduction and management of food waste can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including addressing hunger and responsible consumption and production. This article addresses the profound impact of food waste, identifies the urgent need for action, and explores possible solutions.
Food waste is a world problem
Several international organizations have recognized the urgency of the food waste problem and are actively engaged in addressing this global challenge. Here is the list of the most important ones.
United Nations, through its Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, aims to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses, by 2030.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization runs campaigns and programs to help countries implement strategies to combat food waste.
The World Food Program focuses its humanitarian efforts on effective supply chain management and collaboration to minimize food waste.
The World Resources Institute provides guidelines for measuring and reducing food loss and waste, while the Global FoodBanking Network works with food banks around the world to save surplus food and pass it on to populations in need.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation promotes a circular economy approach to food waste. Their “Food Initiative” brings together stakeholders from across the food system to develop innovative solutions and strategies to reduce waste, improve resource efficiency, and promote a more sustainable food system.
The United Nations Environment Program’s Think.Eat.Save campaign raises awareness of the environmental and social impacts of food waste. It engages governments, businesses and individuals to take action through sustainable consumption patterns, household food waste reduction and responsible practices in the hospitality industry.
These organizations play a critical role in shaping policy, fostering collaboration, promoting innovation, and raising awareness about food waste on a global scale. By leveraging their expertise, resources, and networks, they help reduce the environmental, social, and financial damage caused by food waste. Together with governments, businesses and individuals, they strive for a more sustainable and equitable future in which edible food waste is minimized on a global scale.
Possible solutions to combat food waste
Efforts are being made around the world to combat food waste and implement sustainable solutions. Here are some possible strategies that have already been implemented or proposed:
Food redistribution: Organizations and initiatives have taken it upon themselves to rescue surplus food from producers, retailers and restaurants and pass it on to those in need.
Improved storage and transportation: improving infrastructure to minimize food spoilage and extend its shelf life.
Education and awareness: raising public awareness about the consequences of food waste through educational campaigns and initiatives can encourage individuals to make conscious choices about food consumption, storage, and disposal.
Food waste recycling: The introduction of composting and anaerobic digestion facilities can convert food waste into valuable resources such as organic fertilizer and renewable energy.
Standardized date labeling: introduce clear and standardized date labeling systems.
Collaboration along the supply chain: collaboration between food manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators is critical to minimizing waste. Implementing efficient inventory management systems, implementing just-in-time practices, and building partnerships to redirect surplus food to food banks or charities can significantly reduce waste.
Government policies and regulations: introduce incentives and regulations to reduce food waste.
Technological innovations: Advancements in technology offer promising solutions for food waste reduction. This includes smart packaging that extends shelf life, sensors that monitor food freshness, and mobile applications that connect surplus food with consumers and food banks.
By implementing a combination of these strategies, significant progress in addressing food waste can be made, mitigating its environmental, social, and financial harms, and promoting a more sustainable and efficient food system.
Collective action is needed
Collective action by individuals, businesses, governments, and organisations is needed to make a positive impact and create a more waste-conscious society. And we find some of these collective actions in the form of startups that have made it their mission to fight food waste through innovation and technology.
You can find them online promoting their projects and products all around the world. But some of them stand out more than others. Blazhka Dimitrova who is the owner of the first zero-waste restaurant in Bulgaria, Blagichka.com, and a Forbes 30 under 30, has established herself as a leading expert in zero waste management in Bulgaria and who we had the honour of interview a few years ago.
Others are betting on technology in order to fight food waste on a wider scale. There are several applications available that aim to fight food waste by connecting individuals, businesses, and organizations to surplus food and reducing waste. Here are some notable applications:
Too Good To Go: This app allows users to purchase surplus food from restaurants, cafes, and bakeries at discounted prices, reducing food waste while providing affordable meals.
OLIO: OLIO connects individuals and businesses with excess food to local communities, allowing users to share and redistribute surplus food instead of wasting it.
Food for All: This app offers discounted meals from restaurants that would otherwise go to waste, providing an affordable option for consumers while reducing food waste.
ResQ: ResQ allows users to rescue surplus food from local restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores at discounted prices, minimizing waste and offering meals at a reduced cost.
Karma: Karma connects users with surplus food from restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores, offering it at a discounted price to prevent waste and promote sustainability.
NoWaste: This app helps users track their food inventory, manage expiration dates, and create shopping lists to minimize food waste at home.
FoodCloud: FoodCloud connects businesses with surplus food to charities and community groups, ensuring that excess food is efficiently distributed to those in need.
Too Good To Waste: This app enables users to purchase discounted surplus food from supermarkets and grocery stores, reducing food waste while providing savings to consumers.
These applications are just a few examples of how technology is being harnessed to combat food waste by connecting surplus food with individuals, reducing waste, and promoting sustainable consumption practices.
Today we are featuring a new app that connects individuals, businesses, and organizations involved in the food industry, allowing them to connect with each other to redistribute surplus food. Foodobox is saving restaurant meals from the trash.
Foodobox: The app to fight food waste by saving restaurant meals from the trash
Foodobox is one of the young companies which have taken it upon themselves to rescue surplus food from producers by offering technological innovations that connect surplus food with consumers and food banks.
Finalists in the Pirate Summit’s “Walk the Plank” pitch competition
Foodobox is an app to fight food waste, founded in Bulgaria in 2021 by Velin Kerkov, CTO, and Jane Dimitrova, CEO. The company recently expanded its operations to Romania, starting in Bucharest.
The startup, which aims to expand its customer base by 35% of retailers and 65% of stores by the end of 2024, has already secured €200,000 in funding in 2022.
Foodobox secured €200,000 in funding in 2022.
They are currently raising another 200,000 euros in a bridge round, thanks to which the company will be self-sufficient in 1Q24. And they are finalists in the Pirate Summit’s “Walk the Plank” pitch competition in June 2023.
The “Walk the Plank” pitch competition is an international startup competition where every year selected startups take the stage and fight for what they believe in: their vision.
In this article, you can find the coupons with a 20% discount on the tickets for this year’s Pirate Summit. The pitch competition will take place on June 28, 2023 in Cologne, Germany.
How does Foodobox work?
Foodobox is an app that enables players in the on-trade and retailers to sell their surplus food to end customers at a discounted price instead of throwing it away.
Users of the Foodobox app can search for local restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores – and buy surprise bags filled with leftover bagels, cakes or food at the end of the day.
The bags cost between 3 and 15 euros, but are filled with twice the value of food, according to the Foodobox team – so customers also get a whopping discount. The Bulgarian startup works with more than 500 grocery stores and manages to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 3000 kg every month.
The customer orders online and receives a surprise package of baked goods for half the regular price.
The customers are 75% women, young professionals aged 24-35, who care about the environment. They have a hectic lifestyle and no time to cook, so they buy ready meals. They choose Foodobox because it combines the commodity and the environmental aspect.
The business model
Foodobox makes its money by charging companies a 25% commission on each box sold. In addition, companies pay an annual fee of 30 euros for marketing activities and positioning.
Foodobox not only wants to prevent meals from ending up in the trash but above all to raise awareness about food waste. For this reason, the company has developed an educational program for children between the ages of 10 and 12 that focuses on climate change.
You can install the Foodobox app by CLICKING HERE!
Foodobox is a simple but versatile solution. It solves two problems at the same time. It helps with zero-waste management and saves the baker resources that he can invest in the next batch of baked goods, lowering the final price for the customer. At the same time, the customer saves money immediately, as each purchase costs half the regular price.
This is a win-win situation in our eyes. In addition, this type of collaboration and technological improvements would lead to a reduction in the waste of resources. Like the introduction of smart packaging that extends shelf life, sensors that monitor food freshness, and mobile apps that connect surplus food with consumers and food banks.
All the hallmarks of a solid investment thesis are present in Foodobox. The product is fairly new to the market and has proven to be scalable with its established network of users. And it can be deployed anywhere in the world where there are brick-and-mortar stores that sell baked goods.
The surprise factor reminds of a Kinder Surprise Egg, and the sweet anticipation of a bundle of mixed baked goods acts as a catalyst for the customer’s future desired behavior. This makes the value to the customer considerable and ensures that the product is remembered.
Thanks to the technology used, the network effect is also very large. People can quickly and efficiently communicate and point out various flash offers of baked goods. This makes its networking effect good. While using apps to connect customers and sellers is a very effective way to speed up business and expand the customer base, it is a business model that forces the entrepreneur to actively invest in marketing to preserve the brand’s position in the market.
Therefore, the defensibility of this business model can be mediocre. Ultimately, it all depends on how fast the market expands and how quickly new bakery suppliers are absorbed to provide a good offer to customers and maintain the surprise factor.
As for opportunities for investors, our verdict is as follows. The potential for accelerated growth in a large, accessible market is great as long as there are small suppliers competing with large supermarkets for market share and people redeeming good deals. The company’s sustainable and differentiated offering will depend on investment in marketing to keep its brand position at the forefront, and on the diversity of suppliers offering different types of fresh baked goods.
Finally, management, which has so far succeeded in growing the business and securing the first round of investment, will have to maintain the complementarity of the technical and marketing areas in the future. So far, they seem to be working well together.
The Foodobox team is a finalist in the Pirate Summit’s “Walk the Plank” pitch competition.
The pitch competition will take place on June 27th and 28th 2023 in Cologne, Germany.
-> The 20% discount for the Pirate Summit 2023 tickets published in this article can be redeemed here!
About the Author:
Marko Lavrenčič, M.A. is a startup mentor and news editor who has managed and mentored dozens of startups. He mentored startups in the largest regional business accelerator ABC, while also mentoring high school classes. He has founded a number of SaaS brands including the online real estate search engine Gohome in markets in Slovenia, Italy and Serbia. He is the author of a number of articles and co-author of TV news stories for the first German national TV channel ARD and European ARTE TV, covering politics, elections, startups, the migrant crisis, business and sustainability. He can also be found on LinkedIn and is happy to be contacted. He also reports on regional business development opportunities and edits content on, businessobserver24.com.