rethink sustainability

Tactics to reduce food waste: meet 5 game-changing start-ups

Tactics to reduce food waste: meet 5 game-changing start-ups

Interview published on https://lombardodier.lesechos.fr/ on 15 December 2020

Food wastage is a scourge on society. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one-third of the food produced on our planet is thrown away uneaten1. In France, each person throws away 20 to 30kg of food a year, of which 7 kilos are still packaged and 20% is still edible1. While, 793 million people are suffering from malnutrition worldwide2 and in Europe, 9.6% of the population cannot afford a high-quality meal every other day3, a shocking 20% of the food produced in the EU is lost or wasted.

The agri-food value chain needs to change from a wasteful, idle, lopsided and dirty economy (WILD) to a CLIC™ economy. One that is Circular, Lean, Inclusive and Clean. Fortunately, there are some tech start-ups that are providing innovative solutions.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one-third of the food produced on our planet is thrown away uneaten

Giving a second life to unsold goods

Firstly, we should stop throwing away unsold food. To get the most out of these products, some start-ups are offering to donate them or reduce the price and sell them on. OptiMiam, a French app lets retailers sell their surplus food, with a minimum 25% discount, by sending promotions to app users located nearby. Based on the same philosophy, Pagachey provides a food ads platform for both individuals and local shopkeepers.

Some start-ups taking this approach are growing quickly. Take Too good to go for example. This company operates in more than 14 countries with 16 million users and 30,000 partner stores. Or look at Phenix. This innovative firm has an app that connects more than 700,000 users and 3,500 merchants, including major retailers.

The common denominator in all these start-ups is the desire to challenge the status-quo and change our take-make-waste habits by disrupting the value chain. Jean Moreau and Baptiste Corval, co-founders of Phenix, sum this up well: "To ensure no product is wasted, we involve a host of players, from major retailers and food aid charities to citizens and local shops. We aim to be a living example of the social business movement by showing that responsible consumption can go hand in hand with economic growth."

We aim to be a living example of the social business movement by showing that responsible consumption can go hand in hand with economic growth

Discover the fields that investors should not miss in order to build a more sustainable agri-food sector here: How can we feed the planet sustainably?

 

Rethinking expiration dates

Food waste is as much a consumer issue as it is a producer and retailer issue. Some start-ups have been quick to flip their business models, first and foremost to help shops with sustainable solutions to manage unsold goods and limit waste. Start-up Zéro Gâchis is developing algorithms to help shop managers choose the best channel for each short-dated product (food donation, selling on promotion, etc.). The concept of "short dates" lies at the core of the debate surrounding product expiry. Indeed, a product may still be safe to eat after the use-by date. This is why Camille Colbus, Sales and Innovation Director at Too Good to Go, has launched a petition – supported by Carrefour and Auchan – to change the name of expiry dates and thus change our perception of them. "According to the European Commission, 18% of food wastage is caused by confusion between use-by and best-before dates. We encourage brands and manufacturers to add the phrase 'but just as good afterwards'."

Discover WISErg, the start-up that transforms food waste into nutritious fertilizer to reduce food waste here.

 

Artificial intelligence to minimise food waste

Reducing waste also requires better in-store stock management. This is where artificial intelligence combined with bulk selling could provide a solution. Prague-based start-up MIWA (which stands for MInimum WAste) provides shops with a system of refillable dispensers equipped with smart technology that restocks in line with product turnover. Its AI solution for in-store shelf stacking and customer experience minimises packaging waste and takes the effort out of stock management for retailers: "We want to create an environmentally friendly, scalable and economically viable shopping experience."

Reducing waste also requires better in-store stock management. This is where artificial intelligence combined with bulk selling could provide a solution

Meet Innocent Drinks and learn about their commitment to more sustainable production and management in our interview here.

 

Smart and sustainable packaging

Packaging and protection of foodstuffs also lie at the heart of discussions in the United States. In 2018, the US-based Apeel Sciences foundation launched packaging that is revolutionary –it is edible! The foundation believes our bodies deserve healthy food, so it coats food with a thin, natural film that is edible and protective. In addition to reducing plastic packaging, this doubles the shelf life of fruit and vegetables, dramatically reducing waste. According to James Roger, the director of Apeel Sciences, "this has more than halved the amount of fresh produce wasted in US supermarkets". Approved by the European Commission in June 2019, this technology could appeal to several large retailers in Europe.

 

1 FAO, L’état de l’insécurité alimentaire dans le monde / Eurostat et Parlement européen (2017).
2 FAO estimate
3 Eurostat estimate

Important information

This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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