BANGKOK — A food surplus startup is allowing bargain hunters to snag deals for dinner at deep discounts while helping restaurants reduce food waste at the same time.
The Yindii app, founded by Frenchman Louis-Alban Batard-Dupre, allows savvy shoppers to buy unsold food from bakeries, grocery stores, and restaurants at lowered prices, and divert them from rotting in landfills.
“When you’re a chef or cook, you want your food to be eaten. When you see tech problems, you wanna find solutions,” Batard-Dupre said. “This is what Thailand needs.”
Batard-Dupre, 34, used to volunteer for Scholars of Sustenance food waste NGO. He noticed that the NGO could not send their few trucks to pick up food from shops that only had a few food items to donate per day, unlike hotels which had large amounts to deliver.
The Frenchman, who was familiar with food surplus apps in his home country, decided to use his tech-savviness to deliver unsold hummus dips, salads, scones, and so on into the hands of hungry diners.
The app launched July 1 with only two stores on board – but today, 700 users are snagging food deals from about 20 stores.
Here’s how it works: users go onto the Yindii website and check restaurant and bakery listings to reserve a “Yindii Box” – filled with several surplus items in stock at vendor’s choice, for 50 percent or more off the retail price. The boxes can either be picked up or delivered via Lalamove near closing time.
That means discounted dinners! Many shops’s Yindii Boxes are sold out even before the end of the day. If the store sells out of all of their items and cannot provide Yindii Boxes, customers get a full refund.
“It’s as convenient as Grab or Foodpanda, but sustainable,” Batard-Dupre said. “So if a bakery normally has 15 items left over, they could be down to five with this program. Usually restaurants give their food to staff, but if you work for a bakery you can’t just eat croissants and pain au chocolat everyday.”
Batard-Dupre himself delivers around three to five deliveries per day on his electric scooter, to help reduce carbon emissions. The startup takes a commission cut from the Yindii Boxes sales, but the founder said he does not expect to make a profit for at least a year.
The United Nations estimates that one-third of all food produced in the world – about 1.3 billion tons – is lost or wasted. Europeans and North Americans waste 95-115 kilograms annually per person; in Southeast Asia, it works out to 6-11 kilograms per capita.