Olio, a UK-based food sharing app that connects individuals with uneaten food to share with nearby neighbors, recently raised $43 million in a Series B funding round led by VNV Global and joined by DX Ventures. The funding round comes nearly three years after OLIO’s Series A round back in 2018, which generated $6 million. Raising a total of $53.1 million since its inception in 2015, what makes the OLIO food sharing app so special?
In our world of single-use plastics, takeout and expiration dates, Americans alone are guilty of wasting about 40 percent of their food. However, many are now seeking to cut back on the amount of food waste they produce, recognizing that not all food must be thrown out if left uneaten. This is where food sharing apps come in. With the help of apps, restaurants, foodservice vendors and individuals can give their uneaten food to those who could make better use of it — a concept that is central to OLIO’s philosophy.
The OLIO food sharing app has come a long way since it was first drawn up. Co-founders Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One wanted to allow people to give away unwanted food and other household items to neighbors for free. What started out as a seemingly non-profit community bulletin board for unwanted food has turned into a sustainable business venture that has attracted serious investors and over 5 million users worldwide.
The mission-driven app was not only committed to helping reduce food waste and helping people consume more sustainably, but it was also of benefit to local food businesses. With OLIO, restaurants and other foodservice operators could now give away leftover food and garner positive optics from consumers as a result.
The simple idea landed OLIO a partnership with UK supermarket giant Tesco in September 2020, which has seen the number of food items listed on the app each month soar from 300,000 or so to over 1.6 million. Such partnerships have provided OLIO with a lucrative B2B revenue stream, its main source of income.
The latest funding round will go towards scaling up the company’s Food Waste Hero program in which OLIO pairs Tesco and its other food business partners up with its fleet of 30,000 volunteers to distribute food for free to local communities. The investment will also be used to expand into new Latin American, Northern European and Asian markets.
While it has garnered massive success in the last five years, OLIO is not the only food sharing app. Its competitors include TooGoodToGo, which allows consumers to buy excess food from restaurants, grocery stores and cafes for a fraction of the cost and help cut down on food waste. Food Rescue US is another web-based app run by volunteers, food donors and social services agencies that consumers can use to donate, deliver and find people who want to participate in food sharing.
There are several ways for consumers to reduce the amount of food they waste, and that objective can be made easier with OLIO.