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Tesco partnership with Olio app saves 5m meals from being wasted in first year

Olio's food waste heroes can easily add a meal to the app. Image courtesy of Tesco/Olio

Tesco says its partnership with food-sharing app Olio has prevented 5m meals from going to waste in the first year. 

The grocer last August became the first supermarket to work with the food-sharing app and website in order to offer unsold surplus food that was still fit for consumption to people in the community and so prevent it going to waste. 

Now the two say their partnership has helped to save 5.6m meals from Tesco shops going to waste, and that more than 72,000 people have benefited as a result. They say the food saved during the year weighed 2.35m kg – equivalent to 196 double decker buses. The Olio network of more than 3,700 ‘food waste heroes’ collect food that charities involved in its Community Food Connection scheme, run with FareShare since 2016, have been unable to take. 

Tesco head of communities, Claire De Silva says: “Tesco is committed to tackling food waste and we were confident our partnership with Olio would help with that, but its impact has exceeded all our expectations. 

“For our partnership to have diverted more than 5m surplus meals from going to waste in its first year is a huge achievement and shows the strength of the partnership between our store colleagues and Olio’s Food Waste Heroes.” 

Members of the Olio network take the food items home and upload pictures of them to the Olio app for app users, including nearby residents and community groups, to pick up at an an agreed contact-free collection point for free. App users are alerted when goods are posted locally and can request items, arranging pick up via private messaging within the app. Olio says that 50% of all food listings are requested in less than an hour, with items often picked up same day. 

Eighty per cent of listings are food, but there’s also a non-food section on the app for goods including toiletries, cosmetics, kitchen equipment, books, toys and clothes.

Saasha Celestial-One, co-founder of Olio, says: “Our partnership with Tesco has been a huge success this year, and we’re incredibly proud to have delivered so many meals that would have otherwise been wasted to communities across the UK. Tesco has been a true pioneer.

“But our work is far from done. We hope this partnership encourages other businesses to follow suit and consider how they can take a more proactive approach to minimising waste and supporting local communities. Just imagine what we could achieve if every business followed their lead.”

Tesco says it has not sent any food waste to landfill since 2009 and first published its food waste data in 2013. Its Community Food Connection scheme with FareShare has been running since 2016 and has proved more than 120m meals to charities and community groups, including summer holiday clubs, breakfast clubs and those supplying food parcels to people facing food insecurity. It only offers food for distribution via Olio when those charities have not been able to collect it. 

Tesco is ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research

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