London restaurants now have the option of choosing between throwing away food or selling it fast and cheap.
A Swedish startup Karma has launched an app in London that allows restaurants to do the latter. Following an initial roll out in 35 cities in Sweden, the app was launched in Thursday in London and has enrolled fifty eateries in the initial phase which includes names like Aubaine, Hummus Bros, The Quality Chop House, and Michelin-starred Aquavit.
“The problem of food waste is very big here, so it’s a huge market for us,” said Karma co-founder Elsa Bernadotte. “London has an established food culture, a high degree of digitization, and is getting increasingly environmentally conscious.”
Every year, one third of the total food that is produced for consumption for humans is put to waste globally which is about 1.3 billion tonnes according to an estimate of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In Britain, about 600,000 tonnes of eatable food is wasted every year which amounts to about 17 billion pounds or $23.9 billion. The majority is accounted for by restaurants, claims a British study on the issue
The Karma app can be used for listing of the additional pre-prepared dishes by restaurants. Whenever any new inventory comes up for sale, by a nearby establishment, users of the app get a notification. Users can opt to purchase the offered food at a discount of 50 per cent over the retail costs and get the food collected themselves. The startup generates revenue through a 25 per cent cut on the price of sale.
There are number of startups that have the aim preventing waste by connecting the retailers with customers and Karma is one of them. in the U.S., for example, a startup called FoodMaven found investment from members of the Walton family who belong to the family of owners of Walmart in January. The startup links buyers of food with that has been rejected by retailers. In London, another startup Olio allows people to donate tiny bits of food to neighbors. And across Europe, a service similar to that of Karma is offered by ‘Too Good to Go’.
Karma has about 1,000 food partners and more than 250,000 users in Sweden and it was launched in 2016. It was initially funded by VC firms.
According to a spokesman for Wrap, a U.K. industry body and charity, in the coming years, there would be a reduction in the amount of food that is expected to be wasted by both businesses and individuals. And this is partly due to smartphone apps like Karma.
(Adapted from Bloomberg.com)