OLIO is a free app tackling the problem of good food being thrown away. Globally over 1/3 of all the food we produce is wasted, which is worth $1 trillion; and over $100bn of this takes place in the home, with the average UK family throwing away £700 of food that could’ve been eaten each year ($2,275 in the US). OLIO solves this problem by connecting people with their neighbours and with local shops & cafes so that surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. Users simply snap a picture of their items and add them to OLIO. Neighbours then receive customised alerts and can request anything that takes their fancy. Pick-up takes place – often the same day – at the home, store, or another agreed location. Items typically found on the app include food nearing its use-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, move home or start a diet. All the food on OLIO is either available for free, or for a ‘pay as you feel’ donation to charity.
OLIO was made available across the UK at the end of January 2016, and worldwide in October 2016. Since then over 185k people have signed up and over 225k items have been shared! Demand for this surplus food is incredibly high with 40% of items being requested in less than an hour, and 80% in less than 24 hours. Our growth has been fuelled by our 11,000+ volunteers – OLIO Ambassadors we call them – who have reached out to offer to spread the word about OLIO in their local community. We also have an extremely effective “Food Waste Heroes” programme where our volunteers are matched with local retailers to collect any unsold food at the end of the day (after charities have taken what they need) and re-distribute it to the local community via the OLIO app.
We also have a non-food section on the app which is used to share other unwanted household items too.
Tessa is a farmer's daughter from the north of England, who spent her childhood working on the farm and gaining an early appreciation for the meaning of hard work! After graduating with a first class degree in Social & Political Sciences at Cambridge, Tessa began her professional career as a Strategy Consultant with Boston Consulting Group. Since then she has had over 15 years’ experience as a Managing Director in a variety of global digital businesses in media (EMAP Plc), retail (Dyson) and financial services. The inspiration for OLIO came when Tessa was moving country in 2014 and didn't want to throw away her food. In February 2015 she Co-Founded the business with Saasha Celestial-One who she had met whilst studying for her MBA at Stanford University, California.
Tessa Cook & Saasha Celestial-One, Co-Founders
United Kingdom (London)