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According to the United Nation Environment Program and the World Resources Institute, we waste a lot of food. To be exact, roughly 30-40 percent of food in the US ends up in the garbage or landfill.

This is a serious concern, especially when there are food-deprived households that could benefit from perfectly edible produce. To rectify the massive $1 trillion issue, Emily Malina and Ricky Ashenfelter, recent MIT Sloan graduates, launched the Spoiler Alert app.

Food distribution market

Helping Businesses Help People

The concept behind the B2B food redistribution platform is simple. Businesses post edible goods in a digital marketplace, where qualified nonprofit organizations can view and claim the food. Once the match has been set, the two parties agree on a time and place for the pickup. At the end of the cycle, the nonprofit deploys the food to households and individuals who need it the most.

To streamline the whole process, the Spoiler Alert app equips users with several management tools. Searching for a nearby nonprofit can be done from a location-based map or an optimized list. Instant messaging features ensure businesses stay connected with participating organizations. For tax benefits, the platform is capable of handling receipts. Automated reporting displays trends for food establishments that are serious about curbing their wasteful habits.

Why Use the App?

Food wastage is difficult to address because it’s actually more cost effective for hotels and restaurants to throw food away at the end of the day, than it is to manually store and redistribute edible goods. It’s also very time consuming and requires a lot of manpower- two resources that most food businesses are always short on.

To test the market, the company launched a pilot program with eight approved organizations. The trial was a huge success with over 10,000 pounds of food distributed to local nonprofits.

For now, the platform only works on Apple devices. An Android version is currently being developed. The app is free for businesses that donate through the marketplace. Eventually, the company plans on reeling in commissions from food sales (establishments can also sell their surplus at discounted prices) and SaaS subscriptions for businesses that need additional help with accounting and taxes.

Food landfill

The Food Surplus Space Is Ripe for Disruption

To help ease wastage, the government has stepped in to enforce commercial food waste bans in heavily populated, urban cities. At the moment, businesses based in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and selected New England states are under pressure to comply with such policies.

“Many people come to this issue from an environmental or social perspective, which is absolutely right, but it also has serious financial implications for food businesses, many of which are dealing with extremely slim margins across the industry,” said Malina.

“To put that into perspective, at least in a U.S. context, businesses are throwing away $50 billion worth of lost revenue and hauling fees in wasted food. It’s quite significant from a financial perspective and that is where we are starting the conversation with food businesses coming on the platform.”

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