A brand new startup brings together food vendors and customers by offering large discounts on surplus food, preventing food loss and aiming for a profit at the same time.
A UN study published in 2011 warns that “ roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.”
A start up company in Turkey aims to change that - at least for residents of Istanbul for now. It is called Oreka and it is a young business, having launched in September 2020. The company is currently going through a growth process, say its co-founders Daniel Alp Rizo and Ethem Ozcan.
Oreka bridges the gap as a mid-partner between premium food producers and sellers. In essence, when markets, cafes,and patisseries have surplus product at the end of the day, Oreka are able to discount the goods by 50 percent, or more, sometimes, and offer them to be purchased by users of their app. Once they have done this, the buyer can go directly to the vendor, a cafe, for example, in person to collect the goods.
“Oreka helps food sellers monetise unsold food and gain new customers, while aiding customers buy premium goods at a discount,” Rizo says. “Not to mention there is the environmental impact: there is less loss of food at the end of the day.”
The partners attended a Sustainable Food Summit in Istanbul in 2019 and the idea for the Oreka app was born.
While the app focuses on sustainability and green economy, it does aim to make money by taking a small commission from vendors.
“According to the Economist magazine’s Food Sustainability Index,” Rizo tells TRT World, “among 82 countries Turkey ranked 80th – third from the bottom – in Food Loss and Waste.”
“Based on 2018 data, Turkey’s food loss and waste adds up to 214 billion lira [$34 billion],” Ozcan adds.
The co-founders say, theoretically, anyone could be an Oreka customer, but that their demographic is likely to be a young, smartphone-using one, and people generally concerned about the environment.
When asked about whether refugees could use the app, they are somewhat more cautious. “The vendors we have done deals with so far have been premium locations and require bank or credit cards,” Rizo says.
There are, to date, 450 users, but it is good news for an app that only launched weeks ago and that already boasts 14 existing deals with vendors, companies such as Pokemate, Brod, Spada Coffee, Socrates Bistro and Backhaus. Ozcan says they have already brokered deals with another 75 vendors that are not yet on the app, but their focus is on expanding in a controlled manner.
Currently, this intelligent, Earth-friendly app serves the neighbourhoods of Sisli, Beyoglu and Besiktas. “We are growing fast,” Ozcan notes, “and we ultimately want to be available beyond Istanbul, throughout Turkey, and have plans to expand overseas as well.”