Julia Buech
Julia Büch is a Food and Drink Analyst, specialising in delivering insights on issues affecting the German market, providing analysis across a range of categories.

SirPlus is a start-up from Berlin that aims to tackle one of society’s major problems: food waste. The company was founded by Raphael Fellmer, food saving activist and co-founder of the platform foodsharing.de, in partnership with Alexander Piutti and Martin Schott. The founders’ mission is to make food saving mainstream by using a sustainable business model to achieve scale. In agreement with food producers and retailers, SirPlus rescues surplus, expired, as well as “unattractive” food from being wasted. SirPlus then sells the still edible food at a steep discount of up to 70% off the regular price in its ‘food outlet’ in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district. Part of the rescued food is said to be donated to social organisations such as food banks.

Food waste is a big issue

As described in Mintel’s 2018 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘Waste Not’, the focus of sustainability efforts now zeros in on eliminating food waste. Nearly a third of the food produced for global human consumption is lost or wasted, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, putting pressure on the planet’s resources. In the European Union, 88 million tonnes of food is wasted every single year, equating to 173 kilos per person, according to a Fusions EU study. Causes for waste are plentiful. They include: overproduction, misinterpreted ‘best before’ labels and aesthetic standards for fruit and vegetables. 45% of fruits and vegetables produced globally are wasted – that is the highest waste rate seen across food and drink categories.

Fighting food waste will win over consumers

Sustainability may still take a backseat to quality and price, but at the same time, consumers are developing greater awareness of society’s greater ethical challenges. Unlike many sustainability issues, which can feel far removed from consumers’ own lives, food waste is an issue that is very tangible to the average consumer. Consumers claim to be paying attention to ethical and environmental issues when doing their grocery shopping, but they also expect brands to act responsibly on their behalf, as described in the Mintel Trend ‘Moral Brands’. Two in five UK consumers say that waste reduction efforts are important when evaluating the ethical credentials of brands.

Food waste is a big – and growing – global issue that represents a cost to the environment, and to society at large. As such, food waste is increasingly moving into the focus of sustainability efforts seen by governments, companies, and consumers. Sustainability initiatives, however, often face a balancing act between necessity and affordability, and tend to prevail only where they pay off in the long term.

SirPlus is designed to deliver a win-win situation for all stakeholders, providing economic benefits to suppliers and consumers. Overall, as consumer awareness of food waste is rising and the topic is being discussed intensely in the media, companies’ anti-waste initiatives are evolving from being a nice-to-have to a must-have as part of their ethical corporate identity.