[CHALLENGE] Mesh Exchange

The Mesh Exchange is a food exchange platform to help streamline and simplify the food re-distribution process. The Mesh (MeshX) will match excess food supply with those who need it to reduce waste and feed more.
Our challenge is to build a two way marketplace for businesses and organizations. To do so, you need critical mass, frequent postings, safe food handling and transportation. We have worked through many of the challenges, but seek to explore the following challenges with the group:

Community Building:

  • Who else is working in this area and would be good strategic partners to work with?
  • Network building - Does the group know any investors, food producers or charities, tech developers, volunteers that would like to be involved?

Tech Development:

  • What open source or other applications could we use to expedite our development process?
  • What current technologies are available but underutilized with the potential to assist in food re-distribution?
  • What type of technologies could be developed (that don’t exist) to assist in food re-distribution?


  • What would make the most compelling market message for the sharing of excess food within a multi-sided marketplace?
  • Is there a Meme that jumps out? What would make this notion spread in the social space?
  • What slogan or catch phrases can represent our mission without the use of of the word “waste” ? (like “Let Mesh find your match)
  • What imagery best represents the product and story we are working on?

Admin note: I transferred the topic from the Vancouver category to the food category and added the “city-vancouver” tag. Let me know if this is not in your interest.

Thanks for doing that! It’s exactly where it needs to be now.

In Berlin/ Germany we have an organization called foodsharing. We use the platform ‘foodsharing.org’ to coordinate volunteers who pick up food from shops, cafés, kitchens and wholesale markets that agreed to copperate with us. Currently a team is working on an extended and international version for saving more than just food: https://project.yunity.org/
I would be happy to explain more about how it all works and how we organize things, but I also hope that some information will become available in English soon (to make my job here easier).

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Here are my notes from the session. Apologies for the poor formatting, I can’t seem to get it to copy over well from the OSX notes app. Basically filled circles are main points, unfilled are subpoints of those…

OSCE Days - Mesh Exchange

• 40% of produced food in North America wasted, full spectrum.
• 1/3 of that 40% at farm and production. Focus on this area.
• Solution: Create a B2B platform.
• Containers of food completely wasted.
◦ eg: container of avocados with wrong sticker, cannot be sold by retailers.
◦ too much work to resticker. companies not equipped to deal with this. Write off easier.
• Data needed: Frequency, volume, value.
◦ Need to identify how much each sector is wasting. eg: seafood, meat, dairy,
• $37B/year of food wasted
◦ Not including externalities: fuel, water, soil, man hours, etc.
• Very few companies have systems in place for finding recipients for unsuitable food
◦ Pain points
:black_small_square: Communication with charities
:black_small_square: Lack of tools for transport
:black_small_square: Time: takes hours to coordinate even one delivery
:black_small_square: Reputation. Quality of food transported when donated.
:black_small_square: Storage in warehouse. Costs for inventory management

Current state:
• “Craigslist” style website for linking producers with consumers
◦ Current platform based on ShareTribe. (OSS online exchange platform)
◦ Producer posts food for availability. Notifies consumers.
◦ Consumers can “order” and choose pickup time, amount (split orders possible)
• Competition:
◦ Closest is “Spoiler Alert”. Not interested in sharing software. Only interested in east coast.
◦ Another company in Ireland. No online component.
◦ Copia in USA. Small volume only.
◦ Another company provides distribution via their own truck fleet. 25% of exchange.
◦ Nothing entirely comparable.
• Food can be sold (B2B) or donated (B2Charity).
• Currently in 4-month pilot phase.
• Pricing
◦ Subscription fees for producers and consumers.
◦ % fee collected by ME for paid exchange.
◦ Donation one time nominal fee.
• Automatic tiered pricing.
◦ Tiers
:black_small_square: 5 days for human consumption sold to grocery store
:black_small_square: food production (soups, smoothies, frozen goods, etc),
:black_small_square: compost / animal feed
:black_small_square: Landfill
◦ Different classes of consumers will be notified for different levels
• Currently ~20 produce companies and several distributors in Vancouver that are interested.

• Case study:
◦ Cheese company needs to get rid of off-cuts
◦ Not suitable for sale, branding / quality issues.
◦ Too time consuming to deal with in any way, so just thrown way.

• What would the critical mass be?
◦ Needs minimum of $400k/year in revenue
◦ Don’t know breakdown of different types of food

• Chain of traceability / liability?
◦ Food donors encouragement act removes liability from food donors. Covers charity case.
◦ Agreements related to liability for consumers.
◦ Recipient would have to accept of
◦ Need to investigate liability responsibilities of virtual food handler. What are the obligations?

• Technology challenge - how do companies take inventory, their systems work, etc?
◦ Low end: paper & pencil
◦ High end: RFID barcodes
◦ Ideal world: API integration with MeshX to post items for sale

• How to Integrate with other company systems:
◦ Will likely need varied approach to deal with different levels of tech.
◦ API integration with Mesh Exchange

• Communications
◦ Current slogans
:black_small_square: Give food a second chance
:black_small_square: Waste less and feed more
◦ Inspire producers to give to community
◦ Engage community to act responsibly with regards to producers
◦ Different types of marketing needed for different types of producers based on their world view.
:black_small_square: eg: farmer vs. food manufacturer

• Appeal to business
◦ Waste costs, including storage space, staff, opportunity cost etc
◦ Organic disposal ban fines

• Community:
◦ Many producers have had bad experience with donations in the past that have dissuaded them.
:black_small_square: Late pickups, flaky, etc.
◦ Producers need responsible recipients so that producers can deal with consumers that act responsibly, professionally

• What scale of businesses could participate in the marketplace?
• Communication with larger food associations?
◦ Likely to come later, focus on individual producers first
• Long-term ideal is to get companies to reduce their waste in the first place.
• Build exchange platform and then use for other industries via rebranding.
• timeline for buyer needs vs: producer availability?
◦ Need more data on producer trends to know availability.
• What are the current consumers?
◦ churches, community centres, two small kitchens
• How are prices set?
◦ Investigating what the values are right now.
◦ Platform will negotiated with seller.

Solution Ideas:
• Community Building
◦ Who’s the right person to build the relationship?
◦ Waste assessment can be used to convince producers
◦ Regulatory drivers. Legislation against food waste
• Convenience
◦ Customization for producers & consumers so use can be optimized
• Delivery of product
◦ Already working with iCourier - uber for B2B shipping

Technology Solutions;
• AI / automatic scanning of food and creating of recipes from food potentially going to waste
• Popup business / adaptable market
• RFID scanner to detect state of food as it’s sitting on the shelves
• Lean/JIT food manufacturing.
• Computer vision to detect state of food and post it to the market place
• Capture and reuse food byproducts