Whilst perusing an article on the 50 most innovative companies of 2015, one particular food initiative caught my eye and seemed to identify with a few hot topics of late.
Algramo, literally translating to ‘by the gram’, is an initiative which begun in Chile last year to tackle food poverty in poor communities on the outskirts of Santiago.
In these areas, supermarkets are few and far between and local stores can be up to 40% more expensive, charging a premium for selling products in smaller quantities. Algramo Founder Jose Manuel Moller believed this to be a ‘poverty tax’ and suggested 70% of the population in Chile were affected, and a higher 85% across Latin America.
Moller came up with the idea to install vending machines, for free, in small neighbourhood stores and fill them with staples such as rice, beans and lentils. Customers choose their quantity based on what they can afford and what they need. Dispensing containers are reusable so the consumer only pays for them on their first visit, and profits are split evenly with the shopkeeper.
Algramo’s manufacturing costs are lowered by eliminating most of their packaging costs, and distribution costs are also reduced with items being delivered in bulk.
In the past year, algramo have installed more than 300 machines reaching an estimated 15,000 people in Chile, with plans to expand into Colombia soon.
Although the business caters for food cupboard staples currently, the concept may be adaptable to the UK market and reduce the volume of food waste. A recent report suggested we could save 250,000 tonnes of food waste by extending supermarket shelf life by just one day. Besides cost savings for the consumer and sustaining food supplies, manufacturers could also reap the benefits of reduced packaging and distribution costs. The initiative also provides further support for the local economy in partnering with small local businesses.
The question is how would we share the benefit?
Written by Kayleigh Humphrey, Coriolis Ltd