Mystery baskets rescue food
Catering companies are often left with surplus food at the end of the day, but an innovative app cuts waste while expanding the customer base.
31 December 2021
Most restaurants, bakers and caterers cannot make exactly the right amount of food they need to produce and must discard some of their output at the end of each day. Considering the food shortages in much of the world, worries over pollution and landfill capacity, a group of Hong Kong entrepreneurs set about addressing the day-end food waste problem.
Phenix by OntheList has developed an app which lets Hongkongers buy discount mystery boxes from outlets at the end of each day to receive discounted food and at the same time reduce waste.
Anne Claire Beraud, Phenix Business Development Manager, said the company’s food baskets let consumers eat more responsibly as their solution helps the food and beverage industry reduce food waste. Customers pay just half the retail price for the contents of baskets, Ms Beraud said, though the flipside is they have no choice over the contents, which depend on the items that are left over at the end of each day.
Ms Beraud said the concept was similar to “last hour” sales in many European bakeries, where prices are halved shortly before closing time to clear shelves. “But the point for the shops joining our app is to not cannibalise their sales,” she pointed out. “In the concept of the ‘last hour’, customers who purchase products at a discounted price will choose exactly the product that they want, and they may also be their regular customers already.
“With Phenix, shops have the opportunity to introduce their food to non-regular customers, therefore potentially acquiring new regular customers. The concept of the mystery basket also makes it easier for the shop to avoid cannibalisation of sales since customers cannot choose the products they buy.”
Phenix originated in France in 2014 as an intermediary between food retailers, such as supermarkets, and charities with the aim of increasing the number of items donated. For the moment, however, Phenix Hong Kong team is targeting individual customers for their own use.
Ms Beraud said Phenix had launched the app in Hong Kong amid an atmosphere of increasing green awareness. “On the corporate side, we can notice in the past two years that larger companies are creating new corporate social responsibility departments or initiating sustainability projects among their staff.
“On the consumer side, people are more active in demanding green initiatives from the food and beverage industry – for instance, launching vegan menus. Even though there is still a lot of room for improvement, it is a positive change we all want to see.”
Ms Beraud said Phenix communicate with followers through several channels such as social media, sharing green tips and other points to educate the people to consume more responsibly. “Joining Phenix is a way to join a green movement for the next generations.”
The company has been focused on expanding its number of partners in Hong Kong, especially Kowloon and the New Territories, with the aim of ensuring everyone had a Phenix partner nearby. Once Hong Kong is fully covered, the aim is to launch the app in other Asian countries. Ms Beraud said Phenix partners with OntheList – which is based in Hong Kong and supplies surplus fashion items at a discount – and already has a presence in six Asia-Pacific economies.
Phenix by OntheList
- Food & Beverages
- Hong Kong