Froodly launches a crowdsourced community for using up expiring groceries.

Each year the Finnish food chain wastes 400 million kilos of food – and according to Froodly, a startup tackling the food waste problem of Finland, each week an average K-Citymarket grocery store loses about 10 000€ on expired products. The company has found a whole new way to reduce the amount of food tossed into trash with their mobile application.

Froodly’s co-founders Shahram Eivazi and Brennan Clark have had experience in working for food banks and non-profits in Finland and Canada. Already at that time, they realised that even though supermarkets donate expiring food to charities, most of the consumable goods end up going to waste.

With the help of their friend – a food chain consultant who confirmed their assumptions – they saw an opportunity in soon-to-be-expired discounted food.

How the app works

Froodly is based on content uploaded by contributors and users searching for discounted items nearby. Shoppers take photos of discounted expiring food and upload them to the app along with a short description. Users then search for offers close to them based on the list of grocery stores. One can both create and use content and the emphasis is made on the proximity of supermarkets.

Froodly is a triple win-win solution for supermarkets driving more customers to stores, increasing the sales of expiring food and thereby helping to avoid waste. Their revenue stream is based on commission paid by grocery stores who increase their margin with the help of Froodly’s community upselling expiring food.

Building the community

Helsinki’s strong and approachable green community helped Froodly to speed up the idea development process. So far the team has been validating the concept with 5 supermarkets and 25 contributors. The co-founders admit that users may be reluctant to upload content when shopping.

“One store needs 1-3 regular contributors. We are now looking for ways to reward them such as giving an additional discount in those stores, for example”, Eivazi comments.

To the company’s surprise, supermarkets in Helsinki have been greatly supportive of the idea. Finnish food chains are highly aware and concerned about wasting food yet they cannot do much about it since the regulations on expired food place a major constraint on its further distribution.

Froodly, unlike their competitors, do not place the burden on stores trying to convince employees to add content but rather leave it to the community. All content is unique and crowdsourced from local communities.

Prevention better than cure

Taking the successful example of Denmark, where food waste was reduced by 25% in just 5 years, the company is optimistic about changing consumer behaviour in Finland too. In Eivazi’s opinion, people are not aware enough about food waste and the availability of discounted products. He believes that the use of mobile technologies in the application will speed up the communication from sellers to consumers.

Even though the bio waste in Finnish supermarkets is obligatorily reduced in recycling machines, it does not help the problem: the food ends up not being consumed, the resources used to produce that food are thus wasted and moreover, proper bio waste recycling adds costs.

“Finland is already doing very well in utilising bio waste. We are not trying to replace existing methods of utilising food waste. We hope to prevent food from turning into waste in the first place.”

Another obvious solution for supermarkets is to donate produce to food banks yet the industry insiders know that it creates another problem in logistics since the amount of unsold food cannot be predicted. When initially developing their idea, Froodly has analysed these and the other ways of reducing food waste in grocery stores but eventually came up with their own solution.

Campaigning for food rescue

In August, Froodly held a successful Restaurant Day campaign – a total of 200 kilograms of food was saved from being wasted. During the day, the team distributed the expiring foods donated by supermarkets to 22 cooks around Helsinki.

The idea behind Restaurant Day campaign was to show that near-to-expire food can still be cooked and consumed.

The team has also found Facebook groups to be a useful platform for initial validation. They started small with the campaign for reducing food waste in K-market Kaisaniemi in downtown Helsinki and ran different validations with a closed group of users in the area to give them a feel of what the app would be. Froodly now runs several campaigns through Facebook with Eivazi and Clark actively uploading content giving the test group a great example of being active contributors.

Not just an app

On top of the app as a platform, Froodly also aims to educate people on practical matters such as the science behind expiry dates, smart consumption and shopping habits through their own blog, by campaigning on social media and joining various events.

As they are launching today, Froodly’s main focus is building the community and getting a strong network of users and contributors. The first version of the application is available only for iOS. It’s very simple and allows only two functions of uploading and searching for content in 6 supermarkets in central Helsinki.

If you got interested, you can join Froodly as an early contributor through their website.

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