Technical solution for food wastage

Waste not .. Vito's Cafe & Deli operations manager Charlie Buchan is offering discounted surplus food via smartphone app Foodprint. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A smartphone app designed to get food eaten rather than dumped was launched in Dunedin on Monday.

Foodprint founder Michal Garvey, of Auckland, said the Foodprint app connects customers to discounted surplus food.

Twenty-five eateries in Dunedin were on the app, she said.

People who had downloaded the technology could order and pay for the food in-app for half its usual price and then collect the food.

The surplus food would have otherwise been thrown out, she said.

Foodprint aimed to reduce the nearly 50,000 tonnes of mostly edible food which gets wasted by the hospitality sector in New Zealand each year, Ms Garvey said.

“When food is thrown out it decomposes in landfills and emits the greenhouse gas methane, making food waste a huge contributor to climate change.”

Ms Garvey said eateries were not charged to join and the app was free to download.

Foodprint generated revenue from the app by “retaining a small percentage of each purchase”.

The first item to be sold in Dunedin via the app on Monday was a sandwich from Marbecks Cafe & Foodstore in Wall Street Mall.

Vito’s Cafe & Deli in the foyer of Philip Laing House on the corner of Princes and Rattray Sts was also on the app.

Vito’s Cafe & Deli operations manager Charlie Buchan said most of the food in the eatery was made fresh daily.

“It has a shelf life of a day.”

The eating habits of people had to be considered when deciding how much food to make each day to avoid having to throw it out at the end of the day, he said.

More food was made on the three days from Wednesday because Dunedin people had a habit of spending more on food in cafes on those days.

“We are pretty good at selling out completely on those days but on a Monday and Tuesday we have a little bit left over.”

Wet weather was a factor to consider when deciding how much food to make, he said.

About 700 people worked in the building, including staff from the Accident Compensation Corporation, Inland Revenue Department and Otago Regional Council.

“As soon as it rains, no-one wants to leave and we sell a lot. They are willing to venture out if it is cold but not if it’s wet.”

Before joining Foodprint, surplus food was given to regular customers, he said.

Now a decision was made about 2pm on what food items to make available on the app to sell for half-price.

“Which is good for us because it just gets wasted otherwise.”

The eatery opened about three months ago and business was “really good”, he said.

“We are starting to crank it.”

The Exchange was “thriving” but he hoped another benefit from the app would be bringing in new customers from across the city.