Yume surplus food technology: making use of excess food stock

Published: 24 January 2023

Yume operates Australia’s first online business-to-business (B2B) tech platform where businesses can manage, sell and donate surplus food stock that may otherwise be wasted. Yume’s CEO and founder, Katy Barfield, started the business in 2016, aiming to reduce food waste in the commercial food sector and divert food from landfill.

Yume has collaborated with food manufacturers and buyers like Unilever, Kellogg’s, Sodexo and Accor hotels to understand their challenges and re-home surplus food by bringing it to market. Yume also has a strategic partnership with Veolia, a leading environmental services provider across water, waste management, resource recovery and energy. With support from the Victorian Government’s CivVic Labs Accelerator program, Yume expanded their online platform to enable food suppliers to give surplus directly to donation initiatives.

About this circular economy innovation

Food may be surplus for a variety of reasons: cancelled orders, packaging misprints, or being close to its use-by date. Diverting food from landfill reduces food waste, associated greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and maximises the resources used in its production. By rescuing and redistributing food that might otherwise go to waste, Yume has redesigned the traditional food supply chain. Yume ensures precious food resources can be used to their highest value – for human consumption.

Yume’s business model utilises technology to create an online marketplace to connect suppliers with surplus food with potential buyers. Yume facilitates the transaction and helps arrange the delivery of food. Yume’s technology interfaces with established enterprise systems for ease of adoption, meaning users don’t have to significantly change their processes to take advantage of the platform.

Yume’s ability to scale operations has been supported by the Victorian Government’s CivVic Labs Accelerator program. Through this startup incubator program, government departments identify and define a challenge they want addressed. In a competitive process, startups pitch their ideas for addressing this challenge to government. The successful startup then receives progressively more support at each stage of the incubator process, including access to subject matter experts, relevant data, business coaching and funding.

An outcome of the incubator was the expansion of Yume’s digital platform to include donation functionality. If food doesn’t sell on the marketplace, suppliers can now donate it directly to food rescue charities – with a click of a button. This enhancement was designed with user input from pilot partners Unilever and Mars Food.

Yume operates an online marketplace where businesses can sell surplus food stock that may otherwise have been wasted.


For Yume, turning an idea into a working prototype - in this case, a tech platform for businesses to manage surplus food - was in many ways the easy part.

Gaining industry trust and getting them to adopt the solution was one of the biggest and most time-consuming challenges. Yume completed its first capital raise in 2016 after making several assumptions on how to onboard buyers and suppliers. When going to market with its solution, it needed to pivot many times: what surplus to focus on, how to attract and retain users, and how best the Yume platform should service the industry.

The greatest challenge was navigating the balance between growing the business and financing that growth.

Insights – what worked

Collaboration through technology and data

Yume has demonstrated how using innovative technology can unlock new revenue streams while simultaneously reducing waste. It leveraged strategic partnerships and support programs to expand its operations and fast track development. Facilitating collaboration between business and not-for-profit organisations has been essential to its impact.

Actions to consider for business

Innovative technologies can enable circular economy business models. However, if a platform is to be habitually used by clients, it should be integrated into existing systems to minimise barriers, support ease of adoption and normalise use within other businesses.

Developing strategic partnerships and collaboration supports scaling-up of activities. These partnerships and collaborations can occur with other established businesses or with governments via support programs. When seeking support, particularly from government, businesses need to provide a clear pitch and pathway towards financial independence to give the best chance of securing support.

Further information

Visit Yume's website for more information https://yumefood.com.au/.

To learn more about the true cost of food waste in Victoria and solutions to prevent it, view our Path to Half report.