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The new app stopping Auckland cafe and restaurant food from going to waste

NOTED logo NOTED 9/06/2019 Vomle Springford
a person posing for the camera: Foodprint founder Michal Garvey. © Bauer Media Foodprint founder Michal Garvey.

New app Foodprint helps stop Auckland cafe and restaurant food from going to waste.

It was at a breakfast buffet when Michal Garvey first noticed how much food was being thrown out at the US hotel she worked for one summer in the university holidays.

“The amount of food we used to throw out from the buffets was horrendous. Sometimes we’d put on events and we’d literally throw away as much food as had been eaten.”

The experience helped shape the Auckland woman’s mission to reduce food waste in the form of a new app called Foodprint, which launched today. 

The app connects people to eateries around Auckland who have excess food that would otherwise be thrown out, which is sold at a 50 percent discount. In New Zealand, almost 50,000 tonnes of food is thrown away by cafes, restaurants and supermarkets every year.

While some eateries do already discount unsold food, Foodprint allows users to see where in Auckland food is ‘ready to rescue’ from 50 eateries, including places like Little Bird Organics, &Sushi and Williams Eatery. They purchase items in-app and can then collect the food.

Food waste is a huge concern for food businesses, both environmentally and financially, says Garvey.

“It’s a concern for a lot of reasons. A lot of the eateries in Auckland are owner-operated so they really can’t afford to be putting stuff in the bin, unfortunately sometimes they have a slow day – and sometimes they’re sold out by midday – it’s really hard to tell.”

a screenshot of a cell phone: The Foodprint app interface. © Bauer Media The Foodprint app interface. The main motivation for the businesses is to reduce food waste, says Garvey.

“It’s really disrespectful when we put food in the bin. It’s disrespectful to everyone who’s produced that food; someone has grown that food, someone’s prepared it, it’s been transported, it’s gone through many different stages before it gets to that point of being an actual item that is edible.

“Key to that, it’s disrespectful to the environment because when it’s thrown out, it’s decomposing and emitting methane – a huge driver of climate change.”

The app also tracks how much carbon you’ve saved by rescuing the food.

“For the eateries that can become part of their sustainability story as well, which is what is driving us at the moment – helping the good fight against climate change.”

She emphasises that none of the food being sold on the app is bad or mouldy.

“It’s perfectly edible, it’s the same as if you walked in and purchased it. But due to the fact it’s been a slow day or it’s something that has been generally rejected for comestic reasons, like a piece of cake that’s broken, it can still be sold but tastes just as good.”

Garvey previously worked for Hello Fresh in the UK, a food box delivery company, where she started thinking about the role technology plays in the way we eat. Wanting to live more sustainably, she began thinking about how to apply that in the food tech space. Noticing some similar apps in Europe, she “took all the best parts” and returned to New Zealand to bring the concept here. She hopes to take it nationwide eventually.

The social enterprise is spearheaded by Garvey who worked for the better part of two years to create the app, designed and developed with design agency, 7 glyphs. She’s poured her own money into it, with the support of her family, to launch the app. 

“There’s a tribe of people behind me who have helped out along the way."

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