Vending the World

Vending the World is a social enterprise that focuses on recycling residual stock of short-dated products (best-before date only) and redistributing them to the right group of customers through vending machines and accompanying mobile APP. Vending the World aims to bridge the gap between the current situation in the food industry regarding overproduction and misleading food labeling and the future actualization of SDGs of responsible consumption and production. They intend to educate customers on the difference between the best-before date and expiry date, what the best-before date really means and encourage people to consume good quality eatable products first before purchasing new products to reduce the amount of post-best-before date products that would be thrown away.

The issue

Essentially the current marketing strategy of best-before date products is to make consumers eat a product within a period of time that it tastes best and throw it away after that because the taste may not be the best. The reason why many customers are doing this is they believe the product will not be safe to eat after the best-before date. The mere existence of this market means their strategy for production and turnover is unsustainable since the companies label the expiration date based on flavor over food safety.

The solution

Vending the World will be selling their products through vending machines since it will drastically lower the rental cost and increase the mobility and possibility of these products being seen and noticed by consumers. The outer skin of the vending machine can also be used to advertise and educate the best-before concept. They sell products mainly consist of dry food such as seaweed, nuts, chips and dried vegetables. These products provide enjoyable gourmet experience with certain nutritional values. In order to make their product more accessible to their target households, they will lowering the price to at least half of its original price.

Impact

First of all, Vending the World expect to raise public awareness of the nature of best-before day. In the process of engaging with them and purchasing the products, their customer should learn that best-before date is based on the quality of flavor not food safety. By doing that, they expect customers to not only purchase from retailer like them but also keep eating products that have passed best-before date as long as they don’t show signs of deterioration. Second, they expect the retailers and producers to reflect on the emerging market of surplus food. The mere existence of this market means their strategy for production and turnover is unsustainable. Companies should start to question whether expiration date labels based on flavor over food safety is a responsible act. Third, they want their target households and students to enjoy better quality dry food products and snacks for more affordable prices.

Beneficiaries

Household living in public housing estates in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long District

Project team

ZOU Shiqi (Hazel)

YIP Ka Yu (Candice)

CHAN Chun Kin (Ken)

TING Kai Chong (Anson)

CAI Yunsheng (Richard)

Lee Cheung Yu (Richard)

Advisor: Prof. Mark McGinley, Head of Science Unit

Awards:

Silver Award of HKSTP Technopreneur Award.

Funding source

Innovation and Impact Fund 2020-21 

Classification of project types

SDGs of responsible consumption and production / Food vending machines / Food labelling