Meet Mottainai, A Non-Profit Fighting Food Waste

by Julia LiMarzi

Did you know that Japan throws away about 632,000 tons of food every year? Despite most of this food being safe to eat, millions of people globally struggle to afford their grocery bill. As a snack company, we realized that Bokksu is in a unique position to help, which is why we’ve partnered with organizations like Mottainai since 2018.

If you're familiar with Japanese, you've probably heard the phrase "mottainai" before. It loosely translates to "what a waste" and you'll often hear people utter it to commiserate over a missed opportunity. Tons of food being thrown away? Sounds like a missed opportunity to us. Mottainai’s mission as a non-profit organization is to address this wasted opportunity by rescuing food and redistributing it to those in need.

Mottainai partners with businesses throughout Japan like local convenience stores, food manufacturers, and other retailers (like Bokksu!) to take excess or imperfect inventory off of their hands. This can include "ugly" produce or packaged foods that are approaching their sell-by dates before retailers can sell-out. Mottainai offers an alternative to simply throwing these items away.

With these donations, Mottainai currently helps support over 100 local families in need who are unable to purchase enough food for their family by directly delivering food to them. They also help supply local children's cafeterias that ease the food burden on families.

They resell any food not directly donated for a fraction of the cost at their shop, ECO-Eat. For packaged foods, the pricing varies based on how close the sell-by date is, often being sold for as low as 5% of the original price. In doing so, Mottainai offers an affordable option for the local community to purchase products that are still perfectly safe to eat, but at a fraction of the cost.

To continue the cycle of good, all profits from these sales go back to the community in the form of charitable donations to welfare facilities, shelters, and other organizations that help the homeless and those in need.

We are very proud to contribute to Mottainai's efforts to rethink the modern food chain for the better. We're not perfect, and whether it's canceled and returned orders or excess snack inventory, there have been times when we couldn't sell everything we had. Thanks to Mottainai, we've been able to help the planet and people in need. As we grow, we plan to continue helping organizations like Mottainai that are making a real impact on our society, so thank you for your support!

You can learn more about Mottainai on their website (Japanese only).

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