MSE News

Tesco teams up with food-sharing app Olio – how to get FREE surplus bread, fruit pots etc

Tesco teams up with food-sharing app Olio – how to get FREE surplus bread, fruit pots etc

Tesco is to give away tons of groceries free of charge via food-sharing app Olio, as part of a new partnership to distribute the supermarket giant's surplus food. You can also find free food and drink from Pret, Costa, local bakeries and many more stores on Olio – here's how to sign up and grab free grub.

Olio's free app lets users and businesses – such as Tesco – offer up food and drink which would otherwise go to waste. People nearby can then collect it for free.

Tesco has already trialled its partnership with Olio at 250 stores, and given away almost 195,000 portions for food as a result – around 36 tons in total. But it's now extending the scheme across the UK, with Olio's volunteers able to pick up extra food which is close to its expiry date from Tesco stores and upload it to the app.

While Tesco has said it hopes the scheme will particularly help those who are struggling, Olio has stressed all food available through its app is open to absolutely everyone.

See our How to get free (or very cheap) food guide for more help cutting your grocery bills and saving at restaurants.

How can I find free Tesco food through the Olio app?

The idea behind Olio is that instead of binning surplus food, people and businesses sign up and offer it to their local community – think Freecycle for food. Olio says over 1.2 million users are now signed up to its app across the UK. So there are lots of people offering food and picking it up – though as you'd expect, you'll find more listed in big cities.

To access the freebies, you'll need to do the following:

  • Download the Olio app for free from Apple's iOS App Store or the Google Play Store, or access it via the Olio web app.

  • Sign up. You can use your email address, or connect the app to your Facebook.

  • Browse free goodies from neighbours, restaurants and now Tesco stores near you. You can sort by most recently added or closest to you, and if you're using the web app, you could also try the 'find' command (press 'Ctrl' and 'F') on your keyboard to hunt for what you're after.

    To have the best chance of spotting Tesco food, you can change your settings to just see items from 'Food Heroes' – that's the name Olio gives volunteers who will collect the surplus food from Tesco and upload it to the app.

  • Collect your food. Once you've found something that tickles your fancy, request it and message to arrange a pick-up. You'll pick up from the volunteers, rather than from Tesco, at an agreed, no-contact collection point. To help with social distancing, food items can be picked up from a front garden or wall outside someone's house.

Note you're not guaranteed to find free Tesco food, and what's available will differ depending on where you are and what time of day you checked. But when we checked across a few different locations, we found free Tesco food available in Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh and Oxford, with examples including Tesco bread rolls, doughnuts, fruit pots and salad. Let us know what you spot or manage to get at news@moneysavingexpert.com.

You can also find food from other chains – such as Pret and Costa – as well as food that's being given away by individuals or independent shops and cafes. For more, see our Free Food guide.

Don't forget that Olio's a sharing community, so if you're able to spare it, you can offer free food as well as claiming. To give an item away, simply snap a photo, add a brief description and provide pick-up details.

How does the Tesco-Olio partnership work?

Olio has over 8,000 "Food Waste Heroes", volunteers who will visit Tesco stores across the UK to pick up surplus food. Though the food will be close to its sell-by date, Olio is registered with the Food Standards Agency to make sure any food that's collected is still safe to be eaten.

The volunteers take the food they collect back to their own homes. Volunteers are allowed to keep up to 10% of the food they've picked up if they want to, and immediately upload the rest to the Olio app.

Tesco already has a food redistribution scheme, where it donates surplus food to charities and community groups, so food will only be given to Olio if there is no charity available to donate to, or if charities are unable to collect the food.