Tackling food waste with tech

FoodCloud were runners up in last year’s Virgin Media Business VOOM competition. We caught up with them on the VOOM Tour bus almost one year on...

The organisation, which connects supermarkets that have leftover food to people who don’t have enough, has come a long way in the twelve month since entering VOOM and going on to become finalists. Technology is at the heart of FoodCloud - supermarkets with surplus food upload a description of the items to the app, then local charities receive a notification telling them what's available so they can respond and collect it.

“We entered [VOOM] in the Growth category so we were actually going through quite a big growth stage at the time,” explains co-founder and CEO Iseult Ward. 

"We'd just started rolling out with Tesco stores across the UK, so we were in that transition from being very start-up into more of an SME. The opportunity that VOOM gave us, the media coverage and the mentorship went a long way and really helped us through that process, raising our profile, getting a lot more people aware of what we were doing, really seeing the support for what we were trying to do."

Founded in 2013, the charity grew across Ireland before becoming a presence in the UK in early 2016. "The last two years have been quite intense growth. We've built up the team, we launched a second service in Ireland last year, FoodCloud Hubs, so my co-founder now manages that, and I manage the retail solution we have across Ireland and the UK, across both we have almost 35 people on the team," says Ward. 

Growing the team has been one of the biggest achievements since taking part in VOOM - they began the competition with just 10 people.

"I think we've an excellent team now so I'd look at that as an amazing achievement, really having such a great group of people around us who are all so passionate about the problem we're trying to solve and working well together," notes Ward, adding "and then obviously growing the number of stores and the impact that we're having. We're now averaging 800,000 meals a month so that’s amazing."

Despite the efforts of FoodCloud, food waste remains a big problem, but it’s one we can all play a part in eradicating. Ward advises not food shopping when you’re hungry, avoiding special offers where there’s a chance you’ll overbuy, planning meals as much as possible and finding a neighbour to share food with especially if you’re going on holiday and will be throwing food away.

“A lot of work goes into producing food and I think we forget that sometimes, we just associate the cost of us buying it. But the energy from the people and the planet that goes into growing, producing, transporting and storing food means you’re not just throwing away your Euro, you're throwing away an awful lot of natural resources, passion and energy that’s gone into getting that food to you," Ward explains.

She quotes high statistics – 30 per cent of the food produced globally is going to waste; almost a billion people don’t have enough to eat – which means there’s still a lot of work to do. Growing their current solutions as well as continuing to find ways to link those with surplus food to those without are the aims of FoodCloud as they work on their mission “to have a world where no good food is going to waste”.

Ward joined the VOOM Tour in Dublin to judge the pitching competition, as well as speaking on the panel about her VOOM experience.

The tour continues in Sheffield on June 20th. Register now and be in with the chance to win £5,000 and brunch with Branson!

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