November 16, 2018 |
Karma is a Stockholm-based startup which is taking on the challenge of drastically reducing the world’s food waste by using technology to great effect. The company has developed an app that lets restaurants, groceries, and other foodservice businesses sell their leftover and unsold food, which would otherwise go to waste.
Sounds great – so how does it work?
Customers can browse the app for restaurants, hotels, and cafés in their area that have a certain amount of surplus food to sell, and then buy it at a 50% discount of the normal selling price. The customers get great quality food for a good value, and the foodservice businesses get an additional revenue stream while both are contributing to the fight against food waste.
Karma was founded in 2016 by Hjalmar Stahlberg Nordegren, Ludvig Berling, Mattis Larsson, and Elsa Bernadotte, and has since quickly grown in more than 150 cities within Sweden, its country of origin. It works with more than 1,500 restaurants, grocery stores, cafés and hotels, and more than 350,000 end customers use the Karma app regularly. In 2018 the international expansion began, with London being the first city to be tackled outside the founders’ home country. The pace of growth is expected to increase further thanks to the recent series-A funding round of US $12 million which equipped the company with the necessary resources to expand its team and market reach.
Food waste is one of the biggest problems in the global foodservice industry with an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food wasted every year – worth roughly $1 trillion – with restaurants and retailers accountable for around 30% of that number. There are nearly a billion malnourished or starving people around the world, with approximately 36 million dying from lack of food every year. Just a quarter of the food we waste could keep them properly fed. Quite apart from the humanitarian aspect of food waste, it also generates 3.3bn tonnes of carbon dioxide, which accelerates climate change, and represents a pointless use of natural resources such as water and land.
With restaurants traditionally fighting for small profit margins, companies like Karma provide a great solution not only from an environmental point of view but also when it comes down to economic realities. Foodservice establishments will be able to increase revenues by convincing their customers to spend their money responsibly and support the ultimate goal of eliminating food waste, which is in line with millennial buying behaviour as this generation is much more cause-conscious than any before them.
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