Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Fazla Gida in Istanbul; one of the social businesses in the 2017 cohort of The Good Kitchen. It was a fantastic opportunity to witness their business in action but also to see the different attitude to food waste in this continent-straddling country
Unlike countries in Western Europe where countless startups address the challenge of surplus food, Fazla Gida is Turkey's first and only. And they really have their work cut out because, according to recent government figures, Turkey is throwing away 53 billion euros of food each year, with 5% of this total through supermarkets and shops.
Fazla Gida's innovative online platform enables supermarkets to list surplus produce and then local food banks can select and collect the food they want. Since launching in Spring 2017, Fazla Gida now distributes food to 14,000 people a week and have helped supermarkets cut their wastage from 2.6% to 0.26%.
During my visit, I traced the process of a food donation through the Fazla Gida platform: from the supermarket shelves to the hands of the hungry at a soup kitchen. At all stages, it was clear that though the technology of the Fazla Gida platform was very helpful, it was the close relationships that their team had built with shop staff, truck drivers, charity workers and chefs that resulted in the necessary behaviour change.
Through Fazla Gida's vital work, surplus food and food poverty are now firmly on the agenda for the Turkish government. Recently, Olcay Silahli, the co-Founder and CEO of Fazla Gida, was called to Turkish parliament as an expert advisor on addressing food surplus. Further, though already expanding into cities beyond Istanbul, Fazla Gida are on the cusp of building a partnership with one of the largest non-profits in Turkey and this will accelerate this expansion further.
The Good Kitchen is delighted to have supported Fazla Gida in its first year of operation. We have no doubt that they will make huge contributions to building a food system that is good for people and the planet.