Yume has collaborated with food manufacturers and buyers to understand their challenges and re-home surplus food by bringing it to market.
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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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.