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15th Nov 2019

Why food waste is one of the biggest problems facing humanity

Wil Jones

Brought to you by Open Money

“The world currently is awash with food, yet we have such widespread hunger”

This week’s guest on Pioneers with John Amaechi is Tessa Clark, the co-founder of OLIO, a food sharing app that connects neighbours and local businesses to one another. It has even been dubbed the ‘Tinder for food sharing’.

The average UK family throws away about £700 of food a year – a statistic that prompted Clark to found OLIO. The app has almost three-quarters of a million users, with a further one and a quarter million portions of food having been shared in almost thirty countries.

And they’re not stopping there. Clark says her mission is for a billion people to be using OLIO in a decade. That might seem like a big ask, but Clark was so shocked when she learned the extent of world food waste while developing the business, that she realised that major action needs to be taken.

“You know when you have those nightmares where you are locked in a prison and you are screaming, and no one can help you?” Clark says about the research she did for the app. “It was like that.”

“I was having to double and triple-check sources to believe that this can really be the case,” she continues.

“Food waste really is one of the biggest problems facing humanity today, and it is hidden in plain sight. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it. It is absolutely everywhere. I think we’ve all just become very numbed to it.

“Globally we throw away a third of the food we produce, which is worth $1 trillion US. We then have 800 million people who are going to bed hungry every night, who could be fed on a quarter of the food that is thrown away in the Western World.

“The world currently is awash with food, there is more than enough food than we need for everyone, yet we have such widespread hunger.

“I think what shocked us most was how much hunger there is in the UK. We have 8.4 million people living in food poverty – which is equivalent to the population of London. And half of those are living in severe poverty, which means they do not know where their next meal is coming from.

“And then we’ve got the environmental impact of food waste. Food waste is the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Catch the full episode now on YouTube and on your podcast provider.