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Money-saving apps: Olio, the food sharing app

15/04/2021

No matter if you’re lucky enough to be living a comfortable life, or you’re struggling to make ends meet, everyone likes to make their money go further.

These days, there is technology available to help us save, from personal finance apps to online budgeting software. In our new blog series, Money-saving Apps, the team at Creditfix take a look at this pound-stretching software, and let you know how you can use it to your advantage.

This week, we’re looking at Olio, the food sharing app that helps you reduce your food waste and preserve your budget.

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What is the Olio food sharing app?

Olio is a food sharing app that helps people redistribute food and other supplies to people in need. Known as a kind of ‘Tinder’ for free food, the app acts as a matchmaker, matching people who have surplus food with those who can use it.

Users of the app can take photos of their unwanted or surplus food, and well as other key items like children’s clothing, and upload those photos to the app.

Local Olio users then browse the items that have been uploaded, and can decide to collect them for free (all collections are non-contact while we’re still living with the threat of coronavirus).

What problem does the food sharing app solve?

Food waste is a massive problem, both here in the UK and globally. According to the Guardian, we throw away about a third of all food in the UK. That translates to every family in Britain discarding around £730 of usable food every year.

At the same time, food poverty is on the rise. A recent report from the House of Commons found there were 5.9 million UK adults who experienced food poverty in the six months leading up to February 2021, and recent high-profile campaigns like the one led by footballer Marcus Rashford have highlighted that even our children aren’t safe from food insecurity.

Olio can offer a solution to both problems simultaneously. It offers people with surplus food an alternative to throwing that food away, while at the same time offering people in need a discreet way to access much-needed supplies that they can collect at their leisure.

How does the Olio food sharing app work?

The Olio app is for two distinct kinds of users: those who have surplus food they want to give away, and those who want to access free produce that someone isn’t using. The user experience is different depending on whether you fall into Camp A or Camp B.

If you’re someone with extra food and supplies you’re looking to give away, you can create an account with Olio, add your personal details (as well as your address for collections), take and upload images of the food you want to give away, and create a ‘listing’.

Olio is big on food safety, so when you create a listing, you will be asked for detailed information like:

– The quantities of food you’re listing
– The expiration date for each item
– A window of time where those items will be available for collection

If you’re someone looking to access produce somebody isn’t using, the process is slightly different. Once you create your account, you can browse a directory of food in the free section of the app (a bit like browsing items on an online shopping site).

When you see something you’re interested in, you can make a ‘request’ to the person who has listed it, and work out a time for collection.

Is the Olio food sharing app free?

The Olio app is completely free to sign up for, and can be used by both individuals and businesses (like restaurants and catering companies who may regularly throw out large quantities of perfectly good produce).

While the app is free, it’s important to be aware that not all the food listed on the app is. There is a free section, where every item listed will be given away for free, but there’s also an area of the app where individuals or businesses may look for money or exchanges in return for their produce.

The good news is the app is well signposted, so users shouldn’t have much trouble distinguishing between the two.

How will it help me save money?

For anyone with access to a smartphone, Olio gives you the chance to access food and other essential items entirely free of charge.

The app is free to sign up for, and allows you to browse produce that’s been made available in your local area, and make arrangements to collect it from the person who listed it – again, free of charge.

The app offers a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of users, from people who can’t afford to feed themselves, to those who are environmentally cautious and don’t want to see perfectly good food go to landfill.

Put simply, with Olio you can get free food, or help others get free food. A win-win.

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