Back in October, Idealog and Sprout Accelerator teamed up to search for someone in the who was thinking about the future of food production to award a prize worth $85,000 to.
After hundreds of people’s choice votes and many an entry on the competition’s Shuttlerock page, judges from both parties deliberated and narrowed it down to six finalists. All of their business ideas were diverse, and met the brief of using indigenous methods or ingredients, using food waste in a creative way or creating a more sustainable form of packaging.
The finalists gathered at The Factory in Palmerston North to pitch their idea in five minutes to the judges hailing from Fonterra, Sprout, Idealog, Massey University and Moreish.
The grand winner of the Transfarmation competition was named Michal Garvey, the founder and director of Foodprint. Garvey impressed the judges with her passionate five-minute pitch and her proof of concept, which is a great idea in need of some further wrap-around support.
Foodprint is an app that aims to reduce the 50,000 tonnes of food waste produced annually in New Zealand by cafes, restaurants and supermarkets.
Eateries can sell surplus food that otherwise would’ve been chucked out and customers can score delicious meals at 50 percent the normal price, meaning a win-win for both parties.
“The idea behind Foodprint is it’s an app that connects eateries that have surplus or imperfect food to purchase it for a discount, it’s all about keeping good perfectly edible food out of landfill,” Garvey says.
“Instead of seeing perfectly edible food be wasted that’s still totally edible, what we’re doing is connecting it with people who buy it and making sure it ends up in people’s bellies where it belongs and not landfill.”
Customers order and make their purchase in-app, then collect the food directly from the store. The platform also has features that show the user just how much impact they’re making through their purchasing choices.
“With the app, you can start following your favourite eateries and that means you’ll get a notification when they’ve got food available to buy,” Garvey says. “Some of the food goes really quick – like in a couple of seconds – so notifications play a big part there. The app also tracks for you how much carbon you’ve saved, as well as how much money you’ve saved and how much food you’ve saved by weight.”
The Foodprint app has been up-and-running for just over five months, with about 250 eateries using the platform so far, including &Sushi, Ripe Deli, The Caker and Revive Café. However, the effort has been mostly a solo mission by Garvey, who is now hitting a few growing pains.
She’s eager to use her Transfarmation win and place in the 2020 Sprout accelerator to further grow her business and expand Foodprint nationally beyond just Auckland.
“I am totally in shock about winning, I think I’m still shaking a little bit,” Garvey says.
“I’m super excited. I thought all of the other businesses here today were so amazing and it was really cool to meet some of the people I’d read about and been following on social media. I didn’t think I was going to be the top gun.
“I’m super excited about being part of this accelerator and I think it will help Foodprint scale to the next level and have Foodprint go into other New Zealand cities, as at the moment, we’re only in Auckland.”
Transfarmation judge and organiser Chelsea Millar, who is the lead for attraction strategy for Sprout Accelerator, as well as the founder and CEO of Grass Roots Media, says as an entrepreneur, says Garvey demonstrated a tenacity that proved she is exactly the kind of person Sprout wants to work with.
"As an entrepreneur, Michal showed a hunger to be solving an issue that is unfortunately, becoming a large global problem," Millar says.
"She demonstrated good knowledge of her market, a desire to bring the right team together to execute her business plan (despite having a few hiccups already) and has produced a user experience that is receiving good feedback. Wrapping the Sprout team around her is going to allow her to really accelerate her business from the foundation she has already established.
"What impressed me the most was that she's bootstrapped her idea from the start and being only in market for five months, she has already achieved a lot."
Keep an eye out for a video interview with Michal Garvey (right) in the coming days
Garvey says there’s no one else in New Zealand doing what Foodprint is doing, but in terms of competition, there is a bit of crossover with other delivery services in the digital space, as well as charities that work to redirect food to people in need.
“While we’re not in direct competition with them, we’re aware of them and wanting to work together to make sure food is going where it’s needed,” Garvey says.
As well as this, she says a key difference with Foodprint is unlike Uber Eats and the rise of getting food delivered to eat at home, it drives people back into cafes and restaurants in person, all for a good cause.
The idea for Foodprint came about through a culmination of experiences Garvey had in her twenties. While working at a ski resort in Colorado, USA, she says she was in shock at the amount of food that went to waste after each buffet breakfast.
“Some days, we’d literally throw out as much food as what had been eaten in the buffets, and so I think this was where I started to see food waste as an issue, as I was seeing it right in front of my own eyes,” she says.
“I always thought it was really mad, but my colleagues were like, ‘Oh no, it’s fine, it’s what we do’.”
She also spent further time abroad working Hellofresh in London for a few years, where she was exposed to the intersection of food and technology.
“There was where I started to see the place technology has in how we’re sourcing, purchasing and consuming our food, so this combination as well as looking at what’s happening overseas in Europe helped me formulate Foodprint,” she says.
Overall, Garvey says she hopes Foodprint can change people’s perceptions of food waste.
“The biggest thing is reducing the amount of edible food waste going to landfill and it’s about connecting people with where their food has come from in terms of sending them back into the eateries,” Garvey says.
“I’m hoping to raise awareness that food waste is a massive issue, is a huge contributor to climate change and something we can quite easily change.”
Fast facts about food waste
- One-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted.
- The food sector is the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, behind only China and the USA.
- In New Zealand, 157,389 tonnes of food is thrown away each year by households.
- 47,678 tonnes of food is thrown away by cafés, restaurants and supermarkets.
- The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals call for countries to halve food waste by 2030 – specifically, SDG 12: Responsible Production and Consumption.
- The convenience food trend is growing in popularity, with the Restaurant Association reporting the takeaway/to go sector experienced the highest industry growth in 2018 of 5.75 percent.
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