June 15th, 2022
Each year, food waste costs Australia approximately $36.6 billion.
Forkful is an online marketplace that connects hungry consumers to restaurants, cafés, bakeries, delis, and food retailers that have unsold and surplus meals.
For every 20 meals saved from landfill, one car (driving up to 60 km) is removed off the road.
Food waste is of growing concern all around the world. Worldwide, we are losing one-third of the food grown and produced to landfill. But Australian purpose-for-profit Forkful is implementing an innovative circular solution to mitigate this food waste problem and bridge the gap between hungry consumers and surplus food.
Through the Forkful marketplace, hospitality venues can list their surplus food whenever available. Consumers can then connect with these venues and purchase meals at discounted prices. Forkful is changing the way hospitality businesses function by providing them with an easy means of engaging with the circular economy, bringing about positive change, and giving back to the community.
We caught up with Natalie Sarau, co-founder of Forkful, to talk about the importance of connecting different parties to reduce food waste and understand how Forkful is actively working towards Australia’s food waste reduction targets.
“We are Forkful, an impact-focused business co-founded by a husband-and-wife. We come from a hospitality and commercial operations background, so we are very well aware of the problem and the need to help businesses thrive. We are committed to encouraging a more sustainable society, where food that is produced is always consumed.
Forkful is an online platform that connects deal-hungry consumers to delicious surplus unsold food from hospitality venues and food retailers.”
“We are on a mission to inspire and empower everyone to take action against food waste. Becoming parents was the catalyst for us to do something meaningful. We recognised that if we don’t start making changes to the way we live as a community, then we are leaving a pretty frightful future for the generations to come. With significant hospitality and commercial operations experience, we wanted to make a change in the hospitality industry.
Forkful aims to reduce waste and pollution, by ensuring food is eaten and not sent to landfill. We believe all food should be enjoyed and consumed and place a huge emphasis on the circular economy principle of ‘keeping products and materials in use’ – that is, giving them the opportunity to be enjoyed.”
Each year, food waste costs Australia approximately $36.6 billion. Not only this, but that same food waste accounts for 3% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. On top of this, each year we waste around 7.6 million tonnes across the supply and consumption chain. Most food retailers are open to selling surplus at a discount to consumers instore, so we are helping them take it online and reach even more consumers.
“We provide a marketplace for venues and retailers to sell their unsold and surplus meals and menu items, resulting in less food waste. We’re really disrupting this space, particularly in the hospitality industry. We have an amazing opportunity in the Australian market to help businesses integrate the circular economy with very little effort from their end and get paid for it.”
“We spent nearly a year looking at successful overseas models, working through the problem space (food waste), and talking to different parties within the hospitality industry to understand deeply how a solution could help and what that solution needed to look like to be viable and engaging.
Given we’re starting out, we didn’t have existing partners beforehand. Communication has proven to be key when dealing with businesses that showed initial resistance. When food is wasted, it is money thrown in the bin. We talk to potential partners about the opportunities of monetising what is otherwise given no value, and the benefits of doing so, environmentally and socially”
Once registered on the Forkful platform, users can browse the food available, place their order, and then pick it up directly from the store. By following their favourite venues, users also get notified as soon as they list something. Venues, on the other hand, use the platform to list/sell their items whenever available.
One of our biggest learnings has been that businesses don’t yet fully understand the huge consumer push to support circular businesses. We’re only at the very start of our journey, but with each day we find reward in our efforts when new venues join, or when we get amazing feedback from our growing and passionate community.”
“We know that for every 20 meals (average meal size being 500gm) we save from landfill; we’ve removed one car off the road for a day (traveling 60km). We wanted to make sure that we were able to use a metric that was relatable to people.
We have been so flattered by the support we get from the community. Emails, social media comments – all consumers wanting to support businesses who are embracing a smarter and healthier way to operate.
Our community is doubling every month. We have now developed a fully functioning platform that is currently in trial with local businesses within the City of Darebin.
We also were the recipient of the Circular Economy Living Grant from the City of Casey in 2022, to support us in launching the platform across 27 suburbs in Melbourne's southeast.
We’d love businesses to reach out to us, instead of us approaching them, because they see the value in embracing circularity and reducing waste. It is really a business-no-brainer yet still seems to be a concept we find a fair bit of resistance to, unfortunately, in this early stage.
With this model, businesses can reach new customers, recoup profits, reduce their footprint and join the ethical food movement fighting against Australia’s alarming food waste statistics. It’s a win-win for everyone.
For businesses who are wanting to become circular, we say- just start! Start any way you can. One small step leads to another step and so on. No one is going to be perfect from the outset, but we all need to start somewhere.”
“Please join our growing community or reach out if you’re in the hospitality industry – www.forkful.com.au.”