Oddbox is making an attempt to cut back fruit and veg wastage, calling up growers to seek out out if there’s something going to waste. It then sends the fruit and veg, boxed up, to its subscribers. It covers round 70% of the UK to this point.
“What involves thoughts while you hear the phrases ‘meals waste’?” Emilie Vanpoperinghe, Oddbox’s CEO and co-founder, requested FoodNavigator. “For many individuals, it’s landfill – rotting apples, unloved loaves of bread and piles of potato peelings. And whereas that is definitely one a part of the image, the truth is that ‘waste’ begins a lot earlier within the meals chain – proper from the second crops are planted and harvested.
“Most of what we do at Oddbox focuses on meals waste at this stage. Our ‘grower-led’ mannequin means we solely take what’s already been grown, so we by no means create new demand.”
When fruit and greens are grown, lots of them are thrown away – not by the buyer however by the growers themselves. These fruit and greens are completely edible, however sure inconsistencies with what these growers are searching for from a product can imply they’re thrown away. 1.2 billion tonnes of fruit and veg are thrown away at this stage in manufacturing. In keeping with Vanpoperinghe, these come underneath two classes.
Both they’re too odd – “fruit and veg that received’t meet retailers’ strict beauty specs – it might be on the small aspect, be an uncommon form or color or have been marked not directly whereas rising,” – or there are too lots of them, as “generally the climate causes extra crops to develop than predicted. Typically orders get cancelled. And all too typically, challenges round demand forecasting merely imply growers have greater than is required.”
Oddbox helps growers use their wasted extra successfully, Vanpoperinghe instructed us. “In relation to what would occur to fruit and veg with out Oddbox, the outcomes, as with something meals waste-related, weren’t black and white.
“Growers by no means wish to waste crops they’ve put arduous work into, in order that they’ll all the time attempt to discover a dwelling for them – that may imply promoting to a different secondary market and even utilizing them as animal feed.
“In actuality, it’s unattainable to know for sure if fruit and veg would have been wasted with out Oddbox, however 100% of the growers we surveyed stated we’re taking part in an efficient function in combating meals waste, although the produce we take might doubtlessly have gone someplace else.”
Due to this complexity, it was vital for Oddbox to know which meals was going the place, and the way a lot they might save.
“After discovering out some fruit and veg would possibly discover one other dwelling with out us, we spent 9 months with our growers and consultants digging deeper into how we struggle meals waste and what extra we will do,” Vanpoperinghe instructed us.
“In 2022, we labored with sustainability consultants at 3Keel to dig deeper into the basis causes of farm-level meals waste. We needed to know from our growers how our weekly rescue missions make a distinction and, importantly, what extra we might do to assist.”
Combatting meals poverty
As of January 2023, 17.7% of UK households have been meals insecure. With so many greens and fruit going to waste, this will simply be mitigated.
In addition to guaranteeing that much less fruit and veg goes to waste, Oddbox additionally work intently with various charities.
“On the finish of every week, we donate any additional fruit and veg now we have to charities like Fareshare, KIND and Metropolis Harvest,” Vanpoperinghe instructed us. “Not solely does this assist struggle waste, it additionally will get tasty meals to those that want it. We’re proud to be making a distinction.
“We’ve donated over 493 tonnes of fruit & veg since 2020 equal to 1,173,119 meals.”
Fareshare, for instance, “take good high quality surplus meals from throughout the meals business and get it to frontline charities and group teams – together with faculty breakfast golf equipment, homeless shelters and older folks’s lunch golf equipment. We’ve labored collectively since 2020.”
A local weather subject
Combatting meals waste isn’t solely a starvation subject, however a local weather subject as effectively. Meals waste has an impression on the setting 248 occasions higher than that of plastic. Undertaking Drawdown, a useful resource offering potential options to local weather change, recognized ‘lowering meals waste’ as an important answer.
“Globally, round 1.2 billion tonnes of meals are wasted on farms every year, with an estimated 10% of all greenhouse gasoline emissions coming from meals waste alone,” Vanpoperinghe instructed us.
“And but there nonetheless isn’t a unified or coherent strategy to tackling this monster of an issue. So, as our enterprise has grown, we’ve not solely challenged ourselves to rescue extra fruit and veg, however to make a distinction in different methods, too.”