Finnish startups turn food waste into great taste
Restaurants and supermarkets in Finland alone throw away 150-200 million kilos of food every year. But if this trio of Finnish startups succeeds, that won’t be the case for long.
Helsinki-based ResQ Club uses technology to tackle food waste. The startup’s online service lets people buy restaurants’ surplus meals for a discounted price (typically 40-60 per cent).
“We are a food rescue service. We enable restaurants and hotels to advertise their leftover food portions that are still in great condition, but which need to be consumed that day,” explains ResQ CEO Tuure Parkkinen. “They can list this food as ‘to be rescued’ on our mobile app or web service.”
Users can then use the app to check what meals are available on the day, make an order, pay and pick up the food. They can also receive offer notifications from their favourite restaurants or for certain types of foods, such as vegetarian meals.
Since ResQ was launched in January 2016, over 150 restaurants have signed up to the service to reduce food waste and gain additional sales. While most of the meals (around 300 a day) are offered after lunch, the service also counts cafes, bakeries and evening restaurants among its customers.
ResQ has already expanded its service to several cities in Finland and is now eyeing international markets, backed by 400 000 euros in funding. The first step was taken in May with a launch in Sweden.
A year ago Johanna Kohvakka collected food waste from supermarkets to be used at a culinary event in Helsinki and was shocked by the amount available. The dishes at the event turned out to be delicious and Kohvakka had an idea: turn food waste into tasty meals.
This idea was first tested as a pop-up restaurant in early 2016 and, following its success, Finland’s first waste food restaurant, ‘Ravintola Loop’, opened its doors in Helsinki in June. The restaurant is run by a non-profit association From Waste to Taste.
“We are meant for everyone and make high quality, gourmet level meals,” Kohvakka says. “Food waste is often associated with breadlines so we want to raise its stature and show there is nothing wrong with this kind of food.”
From Waste to Taste’s trucks picks up surplus food from supermarkets in the mornings and Loop’s team of chefs plans the day’s menu based on the available ingredients. The restaurant only needs about 10 per cent of the food it collects and donates the rest to various charities.
Socially responsible values also apply to Loop’s recruitment policy. The restaurant helps immigrants, socially excluded youth and the long-term unemployed to find their way back to working life. This has inspired others to follow suit. Kohvakka is currently helping a similar restaurant to start up in Turku, Western Finland.
Plenty of good quality, edible products end up in the bin because their sell by date is approaching. Although supermarkets use ‘still-fresh’ discounts to get these products off the shelves, they do not always reach customers. But Finnish startup Froodly may have found a solution.
Froodly’s mobile app rewards consumers for reporting still-fresh discounted products in their local stores. They share a picture of the discounted product, price and store details in the app and gain credits towards rewards such as free coffee. Others can use this information to find great products with a low price all while helping to reduce food waste.
“Previously everyone in our team battled food waste in their own ways and saw it as a very urgent problem,” says Brennan Clark, Co-Founder of Froodly. “This was the outlet we found to fight it.”
The app was launched in Helsinki in February 2016 and is currently being introduced to other cities in Finland. International plans are also afoot with Froodly targeting its first international expansion, to France, in 2017.
Text: Eeva Haaramo