Food wastage is a pervasive problem that affects us all, but what if there was a way to make a positive change? Join Neeil Ojha in a compelling radio conversation with Kaoutar Makrache, CEO of WIN Sustainably, as they tackle the issue of food wastage, its impact on climate change, and how a new app, Qa'lil, is set to make sustainability accessible to everyone in the UAE. Discover the innovative solution that bridges the gap between food producers and conscious consumers.
Every time we go out to eat, or we call for food home when friends are around, and then you know more often than not, there is something that is delicious. Some there's something which is amazing. And there is a lot, which you look at and say, hmm, yeah, it's good to be in the plate and the next day - it's found in the dustbin. Food wastage is a reality that we all live with. And to talk more about this and to combat that issue that we are facing literally every single day, we have a sustainable entrepreneur and the CEO of WIN Sustainably Kaoutar Makrache in the studio, Kaoutar welcome to talk 100.3.
Thank you for the invite. I'm happy to be here.
Now, this is something which is very unique. And why I say it's unique is because it's in our face every single day food wastage is a reality that we face every single day. But we don't look at it had it as seriously as one should? Where does the problem really lie when it comes to food wastage?
To be honest with everybody, me, you, the supply chain, the government, the food industry, it's really our problem. It's not somebody else's problem, it's our problem and it needs to be solved by all of us.
Now, when you say it's our problem, you know, the first obvious step towards understanding that it's a problem is to recognize and get educated about the fact that yes, it is a problem. You know, we would normally think that oh, it's okay. It's a small bowl of rice that I'm letting go off that's okay. You know, I'm not too hungry. I'll just dump it. Half a burger is thrown, you know, three portions of fries are thrown. But when this happens to recognize that this is a problem, this is an issue, how does one get educated or educate someone about it?
It's a process. But that's how the journey of WIN Sustainably started basically, by recognizing the statistics, that are mind-blowing. They are mind-blowing globally. And we looked as well, where do we stand? And just to give you an idea, we waste on a yearly basis 3.8 million tonnes of food.
Wait? 3.8 million ton? I don't even know how many zeros are there in that. This is incredible stat. I mean, it's an eye-opener. So when you look at the statistics, was that the core step? The reason when WIN Sustainably actually took shape?
So that was a shocking effect. And then we dived more into it and learnt, what is the relationship between food, wasting it, and climate change, the environment. How do we impact? Because if we look at 3.8 million tonnes every year, it means that 40% of the produced food is wasted. So it means if you and I go to have a pizza 1/3 we will not eat.
Wow. That's such a sheer wastage of such amazing food like pizza, isn't it?
Man even touching point on the rice.
No, which is true. But you know, see, this is one part of it, where you understand that the size is huge. The sheer numbers, the sheer volumes that we're talking about are huge. But how does this marry with the climate change process? You know, I mean, because you producing food for consumption, there is a wastage that's happening, but where does climate change come into the picture?
So basically, whenever the food that we throw away, ends up on the landfill. What happens is it attracts animals, right? But the food is rotten. So what are the animals eating? Rotten food. They get diseases, they get sick, some die from it. And what does rotten food do also, it creates methane gas, which is a very very bad thing because it creates heat. And that contributes to global warming. And using global warming, why is global warming such a big deal? Well, what is our body temperature?
If it goes to 40, how do you feel? One and a half degree change does make a big effect on us and it does also on the planet. So what we want to do with WIN Sustainably is we want to make sustainability accessible to everyone.
Now, when you put it in this perspective, you make it sound so simple, that yes, one and a half degree change in body temperature makes all the difference and all of a sudden you feel feverish. Similarly, one and a half degree change in the climate conditions and in the weather conditions could make a big difference. But how does WIN Sustainably come in this part of the process and try and change things?
The UAE market is a very specific and different market, compared it elsewhere. So we came up with a win-win solution for consumers and for the food business. Okay? Because what's happening now?When I go to the grocery store, I need to buy bread. I see bread on the shelves, but I see, hey, they just take out the freshly baked bread out of the oven. Right? Which bread will I buy?
The fresh ones, obviously.
Yeah, exactly. And everybody's like that. So the fact is that shelf lives are very limited. And we have to throw away that food that has not been sold within a short period of time. So that is being discarded. And that's good, fresh food. It shouldn't be. So we stepped in and say: hey, we want to save that food. And we want to redirect it. And how WIN Sustainably works for food businesses? They generate revenue from what now is being thrown away. And for consumers, you and me, we can have promotions nonstop. We constantly open the app and if you want to eat something you just look what is around you. Right promotions are there, you pay and done.
So this is a very interesting idea. You know, I come from Bombay, and there used to be this cafe called Candies. Now, for anyone who's from Bombay knows that Candies is a beautiful place. And you know, they will have amazing pastries, and croissants and stuff. But, after nine in the evening, they would be open to like 11 or something. But after nine in the evening, they would slash prices of everything that's on display. Everything. Because they will produce fresh food every day. So whatever is there on the shelf, after nine o'clock would go on massive discounts. And when I say massive discounts, I really mean big discounts, not about 10-20% off. No, the price would probably, say if it's 20AED for something it would go down to, say 7AED. So they've knocked off 70% of it. And what will happen because of that? People would actually come in after 9 o'clock to buy a lot of things and, they would pick up now even if they don't want to buy three croissants, they think that: hey, you know, I would probably pay for one croissant, now I'm getting three, let me just buy three. They will ensure that everything that's on the shelf is gone. I quite liked this idea. When you say that there is a partnership of sorts where it's a win-win, like you rightly mentioned, for the food producers and the consumer. But how does it work beneficially for you as an intermediary?
So we do take a commission per order being placed, per payment. And that is to make sure we have our technology in place. We track the the kgs of food that has been saved, and then we calculate from that the CO2 emission that we have reduced. We also build a community, everybody can follow us on Instagram, we do a lot of workshops and awareness around food waste. Because, you know, like I said in the beginning, it's a process. And it all starts with knowing what's happening.
Totally with you. Education for anything that is around you, is extremely important. But when we are in a market, which is, I would say almost coming to, you know, saturation of sorts with the number of apps that are on your phone, it is challenging to find that little space on the phone, because you tend to get lost in so many food apps: delivery apps, restaurant apps, discount apps. How do you go about telling the people that hey, you know what, while all those apps are important, we are important with a conscience.
Yeah, that's a good question. I don't have one answer to it. Otherwise, it would have been already a great success. But it's all about you know, having that mindset of: do you know what's happening? Do you want to make a change, and it's a change that is effortless, it's effortless for the food industry right effortless for the consumers because you eat regardless and you don't want to feel guilty while doing so. And this is an alternative that, you know, you enjoy good quality food at the best prices because like you said we started discounts from 50 up to 70%. At the same time, you do something good, you truly do something good.
Now you almost have made me feel guilty about all the foods that I have thrown away in all these years. But you know, I know that there is now a step ahead. There is a way ahead. So if I have downloaded this app what is the app called? I'll download it right now. If you could spell it for me.
It's called Qa'lil. And we will not be able to download it now yet because it's going to be launched on the 1st of September. However, you can open Instagram and type WIN Sustainably. And you can follow us.
Okay, I have it and I have followed you already. So this is this is done. So 1st of September is when the app launches and the partnership with all the food partners that you have. Would it be all across the UAE? Or have you started from Dubai and then going to spread it across the country?
We are focusing on Dubai, we have already had discussions with businesses in Abu Dhabi and some have branches in Sharjah and Ajman. So we are eager to launch there as well. But we need to get the foundations right in Dubai and then expand.
Yeah, because it's not just a tech process. It's not just, you know, one part of it where you have to do partnerships. It is about partnerships from the food manufacturers, the food providers, restaurants, cafes. The tech part of it also has to be there. The payment gateway has to be done. And also the delivery mechanism. So all of these things, and you're doing it alone or you have a team?
It's me and my husband.
Oh brilliant. So it's a two member team and you've done such wonderful. I mean the thought itself was fabulous and I'm sure that you know once it goes into process it's going to be a massive success. I can tell you I always look out for discounts and for discounts on food I'm always in. With feeling good that I'm not helping people in wasting food but saving some food. Thank you so much for joining in today and having this conversation and helping us understand and educate that why is it important to not waste food.
It was a pleasure being here. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much.