The Change Maker saving eateries' excess food from landfill

  • 29/04/2022
  • Sponsored by - Dell

An online platform connecting some of the country's top eateries with bargain-loving foodies is not only helping businesses make money from products they might otherwise have to throw out, it's also playing a role in reducing the amount of food waste we send to landfill each year.

Foodprint is an app allowing eateries to sell any excess food they have at the end of each day, giving customers the chance to pick up high-quality food items at a discounted price - and in doing so help the environment.

The company is this month's Dell Change Maker. Dell and The Project have been recognising New Zealanders who have made a positive social impact in the community through the Change Maker campaign.

Foodprint's founder and director Michal Garvey says the platform has been particularly useful for the hospitality industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, where consumers' dining and shopping habits have changed drastically and forecasting how much food to prepare on any given day can be a challenging prospect for eateries.

"Eateries are in control of what they might want to list and when," says Garvey.

"When they do list food, you can receive push notifications either by following your favourite eatery or by location, and that will tell you that there's new food available on the app to purchase it. You can purchase it within the app in a couple of clicks and then go in and collect it before the eatery closes. 

"So it means that the eatery is able to retain value in food that otherwise may have gone to landfill."

The platform currently works with eateries in Auckland and Wellington, and will be launching in the Waikato on May 2. In total there around 350 cafes, restaurants, bakeries and supermarkets signed up to Foodprint, and approximately 45,000 app users.

Garvey says she has long been interested in sustainability and food systems and was inspired to create Foodprint after seeing similar platforms overseas. When she returned to New Zealand in 2018 after a stint living overseas, where worked for a food tech company in London and subsequently studied web development in Sweden, she was determined to create a local version of the platform in Aotearoa.

Foodprint App.
Foodprint App. Photo credit: Foodprint

Driven by a fear of the climate crisis and aware that reducing our food waste is one of the most effective steps we can take to reduce our carbon emissions, since food that ends up in a landfill emits the greenhouse gas methane as it decomposes, Garvey says right from the beginning she wanted to create a business that would "motivate me to get up and go to work every day knowing I'm making a change in the world, and also enabling others to make that change by rescuing food".

The app launched in 2019, less than 12 months after Garvey returned home to New Zealand, and she admits it was a "pretty intense year" setting up the online platform. 

The Covid-19 pandemic also brought a number of challenges for the new business. "There were some dark days during that first lockdown when there was so much uncertainty and I thought will I be able to operate again, what's going to happen at the end?"

And although there was a "little bit of pushback" from the industry at the beginning, Garvey says in general the app has been well-received by eateries and customers alike. The platform has also received a number of industry awards, which Garvey says is "pretty humbling", though she is quick to credit the support she has had along the way, such as from Sprout Accelerator and Creative HQ’s Climate Response Accelerator.

Despite Foodprint's success, Garvey says one of the most "heartbreaking" parts of the journey has been seeing a number of eateries on the app not make it through the Covid lockdowns and be forced to close.

After the company launches in Waikato, Garvey says the next goal is to expand into other parts of the country, with the aim of helping more eateries find a market for their excess product and rescue even more food from going to landfill.

She estimates that since the app launched, Foodprint has helped save more than 50,000kg of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions - and it's this environmental impact that keeps driving her forward.

"I'm really excited to see the wider conversations around food waste and its impact on the planet really taking centre stage, because it is one of the number one things that we can do to fight the climate crisis."

This article was created for Dell.