1.3 billion tons — that’s approximately a third of all foodstuffs produced worldwide1 which go to waste(1), not to mention the raw materials used for their production and distribution. According to a study commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, approximately 10,970,000 tons of food are thrown away every year in Germany alone, 550,000 tons of which are accumulated in wholesale and retail industries(2). Here because of store freshness and quality policies, groceries end up in the dumpster before their expiration date. Yet consumers prefer buying products with an extended shelf-life if they don’t have to pay extra for it.
Enter the start-up, FoodLoop, which aims to counteract this trend. Under the slogan, Save it all! a group of young men and CEO Christoph Müller-Dechent have developed an app that informs consumers of the availability of groceries with a short remaining shelf-life. Thanks to a new bar code, the GS1 DataBar, which also saves information such as the best-by date, these groceries are automatically discounted at the grocery store and communicated in real time to the app user.
The advantages are obvious: consumers save money, grocery stores don’t have to throw anything away, and they can revamp their image by glorifying their own sustainability. The environment can relax, too.
The start-up has won several prizes for the idea, international ones among them. Most recently they won first place in Ben & Jerry’s contest for young entrepreneurs changing the world for the better, “Join Our Core.” Further, the European Commission recently approved €50,000 for expanding FoodLoop.
It is currently limited to use in three branches of Bergfeld’s Biomarkt, an organic store chain in Bonn. The CEO liked the app so much the pilot phase of its practical implementation has been running in his stores since August.
The young company is currently in talks with potential business partners in Ireland, the Netherlands and the U.S. By 2025, FoodLoop optimistically sees itself “definitely in every grocery store in the world.”(3)
Good luck to an idea whose time has come.
Images: Liu Bolin/YU Gallery, Paris
1 FAO. (2011). Global food losses and food waste – Extent, causes and prevention
² Kranert, M.et al (2012). Ermittlung der weggeworfenen Lebensmittelmengen und Vorschläge zur Verminderung der Wegwerfrate bei Lebensmitteln in Deutschland.