FoodCloud

FoodCloud: Matching businesses with surplus food with charities that need food

Dublin, IrelandNational, Ireland
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

FoodCloud is a social enterprise that connects businesses with surplus food with local charities using innovative technology. Over 30% of food is wasted globally while 1 in 7 people suffer from food poverty. Our vision is for a world where no good food is wasted while people are hungry.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we lived in a world where no food went to waste and no people were hungry?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

On a global scale, 30% of food produced for human consumption is wasted across the food supply chain. Wasting food is a mismanagement of natural resources including land, water and fossil fuels and raises serious moral questions when 805 million people around the world suffer from hunger. Around the world, businesses are throwing away perfectly good food while local charities are struggling to raise funding to feed those in need.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

According to the UN, if the amount of food wasted around the world was reduced by 25% there would be enough food for all the people who are malnourished. Food redistribution, which is concerned with diverting discarded food that is perfectly fit for human consumption, to charitable groups, has been put forward as one of the best win-win solutions for reducing food waste. FoodCloud uses an innovative technology platform to effectively match businesses with surplus food to local charities. It is a fast and efficient system, which is essential considering the perishable nature of most food products. It is a business-friendly, environmentally-sensitive, socially-responsible alternative to wasting good food.

Awards

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Winner Impact Award 2014, Ben & Jerry’s Join Our Core European Winner 2014, Google Adopt a Start up winners 2015, Industry Innovator at the Checkout Best in Fresh Awards 2015, Eir Elevation Awards Social Entrepreneurship 2015
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Alan is a store manager. His store disposes of 50 kg of perfectly good food everyday. Around the corner Liz works for charity that provides meals for disadvantaged youths and struggles to raise the funding to provide food for those in need. Using our app, Alan can quickly upload details of surplus food and a collection time. An SMS notification is then sent out to Liz who can reply to accept the offer. All of the food that is donated is tracked through our system allowing both Alan and Liz to view their impact. FoodCloud provides cost savings for charities so they can redirect funding to their core services and allows businesses to contribute to their communities in a meaningful and practical way. It is a win-win solution.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have partnered with over 330 charities across 26 counties in the Ireland and 4 cities in the UK. We have redistributed 667 tonnes of food, which is the equivalent of over 1.4 million meals. 2136 tonnes of carbon have been diverted from landfill. FoodCloud redistributes surplus food to partner charities that provide critical services in youth, childcare, homelessness, addictions, domestic abuse, education and unemployment. These organisations serve almost 90,000 people every week. In the next 12 months in Ireland, we are aiming to redistribute the equivalent of over 2 million meals, to a network of over 600 charities with the potential of serving 180,000 people every week. We recently launched a pilot in the UK in partnership with FareShare and will launch in 700 Tesco stores in 2016 and ultimately all 3000 stores. We have reached 6.5 million people through the media.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

FoodCloud is one of the only solutions to retail food waste which has specific challenges. There have been significant policy developments for food waste at UN and EU level. Individual counties have also moved to introduce legislation to feed people first, notably France and America. Food waste has received significant international media attention. This has further increased the value proposition of FoodCloud and the longer term sustainability of our model. Going forward we want to build our technology and expand to ensure that communities internationally have access to our solution.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our business model is largely self-funding. We generate revenues from the businesses we work with. FoodCloud charges retailers a fee that is comparative with the cost of waste disposal and incorporates the CSR value. We have big ambitions to scale our solution internationally and need initial capital to do this, once established our operations will be self-financing as they are in Ireland.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Surplus food re-distribution from depots and food banks is well established in many European countries. However local level distribution from retailers (supermarkets) is a new concept. FoodCloud are one of the only organisations internationally that has scaled a retail surplus food distribution. The key innovation that FoodCloud are using to do this is technology that allows for managing the donation process in real-time.
Team

Founding Story

FoodCloud was founded by Aoibheann O’Brien and Iseult Ward in response to the very clear need for a retail level solution to food waste. They quickly realised that they needed technology to make the process scalable and sustainable and developed the FoodCloud App. Before launching, they conducted an extensive assessment of charity needs. They approached large retailers to investigate the food types and quantities that could potentially be available and the challenges retailers faced in donating food. Tesco agreed to an initial trial in one of their store. The technology and process has been continuously improved to build a platform that can benefit communities around the world.

Team

FoodCloud has 8 full time and 3 part time staff. The team consists of our CEO, Director of Operations, Business and Charity Engagement Officer, International Development Manager, Chief Technology Officer, Marketing, Communications and Fundraising Manager, Support and Volunteer Manager and 3 part time support roles. The team come from diverse backgrounds with a range of 3rd level degree qualifications in areas including technology, business, sustainability and masters level qualifications in environmental studies, CSR and business administration. The team balances youth, energy and fresh thinking with industry experience and commercial knowledge and goes above and beyond to deliver, which is evident in the amount that FoodCloud has achieved in a very short time. We have a board of directors which has a wealth of experience from the charity sector, food re-distribution sector, retail sector, food services sector and business. FoodCloud benefits from the guidance of a wide range of mentors from large state and industry organisations who advise on strategy, finance, pricing models, expansion, operations and internationalisation. To achieve our international growth targets we want to expand our business development and fundraising capacity.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Through a contact in Ashoka

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder and CEO

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Zero Hunger, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

This is Aoibheann and Iseult’s first entrepreneurial venture and has proven to be an outstanding success.

CEO – Iseult is co-founder and CEO of FoodCloud. She is passionate about food, and it is her passion that drives Foodcloud. Iseult, a Business and Economics graduate and winner of Trinity Business student of the Year 2013, and co-founded FoodCloud while studying in college.

Aoibheann O'Brien is COO of FoodCloud. She obtained an MSc in Environmental Science at Trinity College Dublin, having completed her dissertation on food waste. Aoibheann has previously worked as an environmental consultant with ERM and in the banking sector.

FoodCloud has pioneered several entrepreneurial initiatives, such as our Food Rescue Project in which a team of volunteers redistribute food from stores in Dublin and deliver it to nearby charities using an electric car.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

As an early partner, Tesco, the third largest retailer globally, have supported FoodCloud in developing the infrastructure and processes to scale our solution across Ireland and now the majority of Tesco stores across Ireland are donating on a regular basis. We are now working with Tesco Group with the aim of expanding to 100 Tesco stores across the UK this year.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland provide FoodCloud with access to mentors to support us with activities across our organisation. They have also introduced us to a network of leading social enterprise across Ireland, including CoderDojo and GIY.

In Ireland, we work with the EPA to raise awareness on the problem of food waste. We are also motivated to ensure high standards of food safety education and training for our charity partners and have created a food safety working group in partnership with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and key stakeholders from the food industry.

We have a strategic partnership with Bia Food Initiative, a traditional food redistribution charity in Ireland who opened Ireland’s first surplus food redistribution depot in November 2014. Our partnership represents a powerful growth tool used to expand community impact, cut costs through shared resources, improve skills across the combined organization, and contribute to operational performance and stability.

In Dublin, the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) have sponsored us an electric car, which has enabled us to establish the Food Rescue Project, using volunteers to deliver food donations to charities that don’t have the resources to collect. We currently have 74 volunteers participating in this project.

FareShare are our UK partner who are working with us to enable more charities and community organisations in the UK to access surplus food in order to provide nutritious meals for vulnerable individuals and families. This innovative partnership brings together two charities to help address food waste at store level across the UK.