Startups

Waste not, want not: Colombia’s EAT’n Save out to reduce food wastage

Each year, almost a third of all food produced worldwide is wasted. A shocking figure, especially when considering that globally 870 million people are chronically undernourished.

Colombia is no exception. 9.76 million tonnes of food is wasted on an annual basis, which would be enough to feed the city of Bogotá for an entire year. Meanwhile, 5 million people are living below the poverty line.

Colombians have a host of apps for purchasing food online, such as Domicilios and Rappi, but only a handful which try to help consumers and retailers reduce food waste.  Like in many countries, Colombian supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and other retailers throw out vast quantities of edible food every day, simply because they cannot sell it.

Recognising this dramatic level of waste, a band of friends from Bogotá’s Externado University – Ángelica Álvarez, Eduardo Manzanera, Santiago Osorio, Juan Sebastián García y Juan David Londoño –  have developed an app which attempts to provide food retailers with an alternative option to simply chucking out their excess produce.

The app – Eat’N Save – allows users to buy up food which restaurants, cafes, hotels and bakeries fail to sell at the end of the working day. The food is in good condition, and the price can sometimes be 50 percent lower than usual.

“Customers can get first rate meals, without burning a hole in their wallet and whilst helping the environment,” Eat’N Save co-founder Eduardo Manzanera told La Semana’s environmental publication Sostenibilidad in an interview earlier this year.

In addition to benefits for consumers, companies selling excess food through the app are also presented with an opportunity to generate additional profits, whilst reducing their fixed costs and boosting online sales and exposure. Moreover, Eat’N Save can also help companies build a sustainable and socially responsible image.

The potential for food retailers to generate profits also highlights an important point: that is, that sustainability doesn’t necessarily have to reduce a company’s profits. The app is also available to a broad range of food outlets, from major chains to small bakeries, meaning its positive social impact will not be limited to specific sector.

On a wider scale, Eat’N Save hopes to reduce the monumental amount of food wasted at the global level, which not only carries a heavy environmental cost but which also translates to an annual waste of $2.6 billion, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“The idea arose as an innovative opportunity to solve the problem of food waste whilst providing benefits for the three main actors impacted by our app: the environment, users and restaurants,” said Ángelica Álvarez, speaking to Portafolio.

The app is easy to use: a user simply enters his or her location, checks what retailers are selling leftover food,then places an order for pick up or delivery.

This year, Eat’N Save was selected among five best start-ups in Colombia during 2018 Chivas-Venture Global Final. The app’s founders hope that along with positive economic effects for individuals and companies, Eat’N Save will also promote social awareness for food waste and sustainability.

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