Food sharing

Foodsharing involves collecting unwanted and overproduced food products that would otherwise be discarded and redistributing them to the people who will consume them. The food products can be collected directly from private households as well as from small or medium-sized businesses. It can be either distributed directly, via distributors or online communities.

Commercial food rescue apps are a closely related concept.

Aim and innovation

The movement aims to reduce food waste and to increase appreciation of food products. This involves next to sharing food often also educational activities. The initiative Foodsharing for example also draws attention to food waste and the issue of unnecessary packaging via events, activities and media relations.[2]

It is not needed anymore to dispose of unwanted and overproduced food products, but these products are shared with consumers via distributors and online communities which makes it innovative. Contracts with businesses that relieve them from their liability allow them to also share food products that exceed the expiration date.[3]


Foodsharing e.V., Lebensmittel-retten+fair-teilen e.V., Spielwagen e.V., Facebook groups for food rescuing


waste and recycling (user practices, knowledge, infrastructure)


consumers, volunteers, associations, businesses (especially supermarkets and bakeries)

Development and current dynamics

The online platform of the Foodsharing initiative is today available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and there are more than 100.000 registered users. [5] Over 30.000 volunteers collect food products from businesses and more than 4.000 businesses cooperate on a regular basis with Foodsharing.[6] There are several barriers for the further development of the niche - the reluctance of businesses to participate in foodsharing,[7] the reluctance of public institutions to provide room for distributors[8] as well as bureaucratic barriers. Authorities have closed distributors due to hygienic reasons, because the same standards as for supermarkets were imposed on them.[9]


Sustainability potential


  • resource efficiency in production and consumption

  • promotion of regional, closed nutrient cycles


  • increasing food security (indirect)
  • promotion of circular economy


  • health: Access to healthy nutrition
  • participation (indirect)
  • social justice (indirect)
  • awareness/ education for sustainable nutrition

Aim and innovation

There is a potential risk that actors will become increasingly accepting of the continuous food waste.



The innovation foodsharing means the coordinated collecting of  food products that would otherwise be discarded and redistributing them to the people who will consume it. The objective is to reduce the volume of food waste. There has been a continuous growth of the niche innovation in Germany in the last years, however, the expansion is still slowed down due to bureaucratic barriers and missing support from public institutions. There is a sustainability potential especially in terms of resource efficiency and social aspects. A comprehensive sustainability potential is especially given due to the activities for preventing the emergence of food waste. 

[1] Foodsharing (2018a): Willkommen bei Foodsharing. Web, 01.06.2018. foodsharing.de

[2] Ebd.

[3] Foodsharing (2015): Lebensmittel Retten Wiki: Rechtsvereinbarung. Web, 01.06.2018. wiki.foodsharing.de/Rechtsvereinbarung

[4] Foodsharing (2018b): Über uns. Web, 01.06.2018. foodsharing.de/ueber-uns

[5] ebd.

[6] Foodsharing (2018c): Gesamtstatistik. Web, 01.06.2018. foodsharing.de/statistik

[7] Hunt, L. (2015): Foodsharing in Wipperfürth: Gegen das Wegwerfen von Lebensmitteln. Rundschau Online. Web, Abrufdatum? www.rundschau-online.de/region/oberberg/foodsharing-in-wipperfuerth-gegen-das-wegwerfen-von-lebensmitteln-23388568

[8] Pausch, K.; Müller-Lorey, O. (2018): Foodsharing in Halle: Warum die Uni gegen den ‚Fairteiler‘ im Hof des Juridicums ist. Mitteldeutsche Zeitung. Web, 01.06.2018. www.mz-web.de/halle-saale/foodsharing-in-halle-warum-die-uni-gegen-den--fairteiler--im-hof-des-juridicums-ist-29925204

[9] Zero Waste News (2018): 5 Jahre Foodsharing. ReMap. Web, 01.06.2018. www.remap-berlin.de/blog/news/25