Re:Wien Startup Success Story: Unverschwendet

Unverschwendet is a pioneering startup based in Vienna that has transformed the concept of food waste into a sustainable, gastronomic delight. Oekobusiness Wien talked with this social enterprise and explored its impact on sustainability, and the vision that drives its founders.

What does Unverschwendet do?

Unverschwendet saves fruits and vegetables, and recently also foods like excess spices and dough leftovers from Manner waffle production, turning them into delicacies. According to the WWF, more than 167 million kilograms of fruits and vegetables are lost in agriculture in Austria, and we give these valuable resources a second chance. The fruit is of perfect quality, but the reasons it is thrown away are very diverse: too small, too large, unattractive, or simply too much, to name just a few of the hundred reasons. Our portfolio ranges from sweet fruit spreads, savory spreads and mustards to pickled products and fine syrups.

Since October 2023, we have been making our “No Gin” from dough leftovers that occur in the Manner waffle production—a gin distilled using traditional craftsmanship with the addition of botanicals in the Gölles manufactory. Since the waffle dough is no longer of direct agricultural origin, we are not allowed to call our fine spirit “Gin”.

How did you come up with your business idea? Why did you start a social startup?

 

It all began when Cornelia Diesenreiter, co-founder and co-CEO of Unverschwendet, discovered kilos of partly packaged and edible food during a waste analysis as part of her studies. A solution was needed, and together with her brother Andreas Diesenreiter, Unverschwendet started as an association. The team has since grown to 20 people, all motivated and excited to work on a common mission.

 

How was the transition from a market stand with a few team members to an established company with over ten employees?

 

The transition has been exciting and dynamic. In the beginning, cooking was done in-house, the paths were short, and the number of jars was manageable. With increasing demand, greater impact, and a larger team, we are continually refining our established processes. In our office in the 15th district, we work every day to save as much food as possible. In our large warehouse in the 23rd district, our jars are packed as gifts and from there, they set off to bring sustainable and special joy to as many people as possible.

 

What successes have you already achieved and what are the next steps?

 

Everything started with the first production of 500 jars. We currently save tons of food and can look back and forward to almost eight years of experience and major partnerships. The delicatessen production is the first big step towards our goals. Other ways to save food, like a surplus exchange, are being developed and tested on a small scale. The key here is the development and programming of our “Unverschwendet System”, which simplifies or enables the economical handling of surpluses.

 

What are your wishes for the future (regarding sustainability, social startups, your startup, etc.)?

 

Our greatest wish and the goal we continuously work towards is to save as many valuable goods as possible, reintegrate them into the value chain, and turn them into a delightful experience for consumers. Acting in a way that raises awareness and not seeking the culprits in the system is an important pillar of our actions.

 

What still needs to be done to make Vienna a greener and more social city?

As a company rooted in Vienna’s 15th district, we are very happy to be able to operate in a livable city like Vienna. The city offers a variety of incubators, funding, and training opportunities for young companies. We are very pleased that more and more of these are linked to contributing to and achieving sustainability goals. Innovative, sustainable ideas are one of the biggest levers for a livable future.

 

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How did the Re:Wien program contribute to the further development of your business idea?

 

The Re:Wien program from OekoBusiness Wien and Impact Hub Vienna are breeding grounds for sustainable ideas and a fantastic opportunity to network with like-minded people. Although our participation was a few years ago, we are still in contact with many and exchange ideas.

 

What tips would you give to other founders?

 

Take advantage of the diverse opportunities that the city of Vienna offers to advance your idea. Whether it’s through an incubator like Re:Wien, a grant, or one of the many exciting networking meetings. It has helped us a lot to build a strong network of experts who can help us with acute issues.

 

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