Ever thought that it would be great to be able to give away some of your leftovers or surplus homegrown apples instead of throwing them away? Well, look no further. Whether you have got food or want food, the Olio App is here to help share unwanted food so it does not end up in the bin.
Following its launch last year, I caught up with co-founder Tessa Cook to find out more about this simple yet genius idea.
How did the idea of OLIO come about?
My co-founder Saasha and I are passionate believers that good food should never be thrown away – and after a little research it became clear to us that the social, economic and environmental case for action against food waste is compelling.
Globally, a third of all food produced is wasted, and in the UK, households – which are responsible for half of all food waste – bin over £12bn of edible food per year, at a cost of £700 to the average family. Food waste is also costly for local stores and governments, and is a huge emitter of greenhouse gases. So we launched OLIO in the hope of addressing these problems by combining cutting-edge mobile technology with the power of the sharing economy and an engaged local community.
What does the app do?
OLIO is a free app that connects neighbours with each other and with local independent shops so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. This could include food nearing its sell-by date from shops, cafes and markets; spare vegetables from the allotment; cakes from an amateur baker; or groceries from household fridges when people go away or move home. Users simply snap a picture of their items and add them to OLIO for neighbours or local shoppers to collect.
When did it first launch?
OLIO launched in a North London borough in July 2015, before expanding across the whole capital by the end of the year.
What has been the response so far?
We’re thrilled with progress to date. In London alone OLIO has been used over 100,000 times, and it was amazing to be recognised by Apple as a ‘Best new app’ in the App Store.
What type of food products can you find on it?
Take a look for yourself – in other words, we’ve seen that almost anything can end up on OLIO!
I have cooked too much curry and want to give some away. What do I do next?
It’s easy. Open OLIO, take a picture of the food, add a few details (e.g. describing the item, noting if there’s a price etc) and post it on OLIO for collection. Your neighbours can then receive notifications alerting them of new items being added. If your food takes their fancy, they can pop by your home to pick it up, collect it from a local Drop Box nearby or meet you at another agreed location – whichever you prefer.
Is it only consumers to consumers or can businesses use it too?
It’s for consumers and local independent businesses – we’re seeing lots of shops, cafes and markets sign up.
Is OLIO available nationwide?
Following our successful rollout across London, OLIO became available nationwide at the end of January!
Is the app compatible with both iPhone and Android?
Yes – and it’s free to download.