Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Food rescue and redistribution platforms are digital platforms and networks that facilitate the efficient and safe donation of surplus food from businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, and food manufacturers to nonprofit organizations that feed people experiencing hunger.

Impact on climate action

Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms within Reducing Food Waste mitigate climate change by diverting surplus food from landfills. By redistributing edible food to those in need, these platforms reduce methane emissions, conserve resources used in food production, and promote sustainable consumption patterns, contributing to a more resilient and sustainable food system.


  • Mobile Applications and Web Platforms: These platforms provide userfriendly interfaces for businesses to easily list their surplus food and for recipient organizations to browse available donations and schedule pickups.

  • Logistics and Transportation Networks: Some platforms integrate with logistics providers to coordinate the efficient and timely transportation of rescued food from donors to recipients, ensuring the safe transport of perishable items.

  • Inventory Management Tools: Businesses can track their donations, manage their surplus inventory, and gain insights into their food waste patterns through builtin inventory management tools.

  • Data Analytics and Reporting: These platforms use data analytics to track the impact of food rescue efforts, measure the amount of food diverted from landfills, and generate reports for donors and recipients.

TRL : 8-9

Prominent Innovation themes

  • AIPowered Matching Algorithms: Some platforms are incorporating AI algorithms to optimize matching between food donors and recipient organizations, taking into account factors like location, food type, and recipient needs.

  • Blockchain for Transparency and Traceability: Blockchain technology can be used to create a secure and transparent record of food donations, enabling traceability throughout the redistribution process and enhancing accountability.

  • Gamification and Incentives: Platforms are experimenting with gamification and incentive programs to encourage businesses to donate their surplus food regularly, fostering a culture of food rescue.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Copia:
    • Technology Enhancement: Copia leverages technology to connect businesses with surplus food to nonprofits and communities in need. Their platform utilizes algorithms to match surplus food with the most appropriate recipients based on factors such as location, quantity, and dietary preferences.
    • Uniqueness: Copia’s unique approach lies in its use of data analytics and logistics optimization to efficiently redistribute surplus food, reducing food waste while addressing hunger in local communities. Their platform enables businesses to track and measure their food waste reduction efforts, providing insights for continuous improvement.
    • End-User Segments: Copia serves a diverse range of stakeholders, including food businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and individuals. Their platform addresses the needs of businesses looking to reduce food waste, nonprofits seeking to access surplus food donations, and communities facing food insecurity.
  2. OLIO:
    • Technology Enhancement: OLIO is a mobile app-based platform that connects neighbors and local businesses to share surplus food. Users can list surplus food items on the app, which are then made available for pickup by nearby users, reducing food waste and fostering community connections.
    • Uniqueness: OLIO’s uniqueness lies in its focus on community-driven food sharing, empowering individuals and businesses to play an active role in reducing food waste at the local level. Their platform facilitates hyper-local food redistribution, enabling users to share surplus food within their neighborhoods.
    • End-User Segments: OLIO caters to a wide range of users, including individuals, households, local businesses, and community organizations. Their platform addresses the needs of individuals looking to reduce food waste at home, businesses seeking to donate surplus food, and communities aiming to build resilience through food sharing.
  3. Too Good To Go:
    • Technology Enhancement: Too Good To Go is a mobile app-based platform that connects users with surplus food from restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and supermarkets at discounted prices. The app allows users to purchase surplus food items that would otherwise be discarded, reducing food waste and offering savings to consumers.
    • Uniqueness: Too Good To Go’s unique selling point lies in its focus on offering surplus food at discounted prices, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious consumers while helping businesses reduce food waste. Their platform also raises awareness about the environmental and social impacts of food waste.
    • End-User Segments: Too Good To Go targets individual consumers looking to purchase affordable surplus food, as well as businesses seeking to reduce food waste and contribute to sustainability efforts. Their platform addresses the needs of both consumers and businesses, fostering a win-win solution for food waste reduction.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. University of Oxford:
    • Research Focus: University of Oxford is a pioneer in the development of Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms, focusing on leveraging data analytics, logistics optimization, and social network analysis to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of food recovery and redistribution initiatives.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the integration of geospatial mapping, predictive modeling, and machine learning algorithms to identify surplus food sources, match them with local charities and food banks, and coordinate timely pickups and deliveries. They also explore innovative packaging solutions, food preservation techniques, and consumer engagement strategies to minimize food waste at the source and maximize the nutritional value of rescued food items.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in food recovery networks, community food hubs, and emergency food assistance programs, enabling organizations to redistribute surplus food to vulnerable populations while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and alleviating food insecurity. By advancing Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms, University of Oxford’s research contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030 and promoting a circular economy approach to food management.
  2. Harvard University:
    • Research Focus: Harvard University conducts innovative research on Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms, leveraging its expertise in behavioral economics, public health, and supply chain management to develop scalable and sustainable solutions for tackling food waste and hunger.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design and implementation of incentive-based programs, gamification strategies, and social marketing campaigns to incentivize food businesses, retailers, and consumers to donate surplus food and reduce food waste throughout the supply chain. They also explore policy interventions, regulatory frameworks, and cross-sector collaborations to address systemic barriers and promote a culture of food recovery and redistribution.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in urban food systems, corporate food waste reduction initiatives, and school meal programs, fostering partnerships between businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies to divert edible food from landfills and redirect it to those in need. By championing Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms, Harvard’s research contributes to building more resilient and equitable food systems, enhancing food access, and promoting environmental sustainability.
  3. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University is engaged in innovative research on Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms, focusing on harnessing digital technologies, blockchain solutions, and decentralized networks to streamline food recovery processes and optimize resource allocation in the food supply chain.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the development of mobile applications, online platforms, and smart sensors for real-time tracking, monitoring, and traceability of surplus food donations, enabling transparency, accountability, and trust among stakeholders. They also explore novel business models, financial mechanisms, and impact assessment tools to quantify the social, economic, and environmental benefits of food rescue and redistribution efforts.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in retail food recovery, event catering, and institutional food service operations, facilitating the diversion of surplus food from landfill disposal to charitable organizations, food pantries, and community feeding programs. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies for Food Rescue and Redistribution Platforms, Stanford’s research aims to create more resilient and responsive food systems, reduce food waste generation, and promote food justice and equity.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Food rescue and redistribution platforms are being widely implemented by businesses of all sizes, including:

  • Restaurants and caterers: Donating surplus food from events, buffets, and daily operations to local food banks and shelters.

  • Grocery stores: Redistributing unsold but still edible food to charities and community organizations.

  • Food manufacturers: Donating excess inventory or products nearing their expiration dates to food rescue organizations.