The firm exited the BBC TV show seven years ago without investment. It offers direct-to-consumer deals for food that would have gone to waste otherwise from food manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.
Commenting on his firm’s failure in the Den, owner Andy Needham said: “We were approached by the Den producers and turned them down on several occasions before succumbing and agreeing to get involved. Our first mistake was approaching the show as a serious investment opportunity rather than the entertainment show we now know it is.
“Although harrowing at the time, we got a lot out of the experience. Deborah Meaden came out with the line that will stick with me forever: ‘I take risks, but you are braver than me.’ Yes, Deborah, we are – back bedroom, knackered van and a few calculated risks later we can celebrate our one millionth order.”
Of the 7m tonnes of food thrown away each year, 25,000 tonnes have been prevented from going to waste by approved food. It boasts 350,000 customers across the UK that regularly place orders.
The top five most popular products to date are: Lucky boxes (lucky dip boxes with random items); chocolate bars; crisps (every flavour); canned soft drinks; and tinned tomatoes and pasta.
‘Come a long way’
Needham added: “We’ve come such a long way since (founder) Dan’s back bedroom. The complexity of what we do should not be underestimated – no two orders are the same and the number and type of products in each order can differ hugely in terms of number, weight, volume, type and fragility.”
Meanwhile, more than 180,000t of food –worth £300m – has been saved from becoming waste during the second year of the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP’s) Food Waste Reduction Roadmap.