Food Technology

How an app is helping restaurants cut food waste

Globally, humans produce enough food to feed 10 billion people (we are only 7 billion now) yet somehow we waste a third of this. Food waste is one of the biggest climate challenges of our time. Luckily there are some brilliant ideas out there aiming to tackle this global problem. The ECO coin Award 2018 looks to recognise these innovators and has nominated 3 international projects. These nominees caught our attention with their out-of-the-box concepts, international communities and strong visions on the future of food.

As part of our quest to this year’s winner, we’re interviewing each of the three finalists to learn about their values, insights and future visions. We are excited to introduce you to nominee Too Good to Go, a mobile application that connects restaurants with individual customers who can buy their surplus food before it is wasted. The app has only be launched less than two years ago and has been exploding in popularity ever since. At the moment, Too Good to Go is active in 7 European countries. In this Q&A, they tell us more about their drive, vision and future plans.

You originally launched the app in 2016 in Denmark. What triggered you at the time to take action and tackle food waste?

The world population is increasing significantly. Currently we are inhabiting the planet with over 7 billion people and are expected to grow to 20 billion by the year 2050.

Unfortunately, our current food system is not capable of sustaining the increasing population, to do so a transformation is necessary on multiple levels. A few key challenges come to mind when analysing our food system: The range of land needed for cultivating and agriculture, the large amounts of water and energy needed for the food system, and the fact that one third of all food produced is wasted somewhere within the supply chain.

All these challenges are intertwined and have a huge environmental impact, but this last challenge specifically is why Too Good To Go was founded. This is also the foundation of our vision which is:

All the produced food in the world = food consumed.

Why did you choose to focus specifically on food waste of the catering and retail sector?

Our core business is food waste which means we are constantly looking for new ways to broaden our horizon. 19% of the food wasted occurs within the catering and retail sector, 39% occurs within production and the largest amount of waste occurs within households, 49%. This means we are building our community to inspire and empower them to be part of this movement, which hopefully spreads and creates awareness with all stakeholders and especially in households.

In your experience, what makes the application so effective?

Simplicity – we made sure it would be attractive for everybody to join the app and mission.
The way the business model works is that consumers pay in the app and we keep a small fee after which we transfer the money to the stores. No cure no pay, consumers get a good deal, stores get money for their surplus food and most importantly, the food is eaten instead of thrown out. Everybody wins!

Also we entered the market at the right time. The overall interest in environmental protection and our food system is at an all-time high. This is why Too Good To Go is welcomed by so many people and the involvement is so high.

The concept behind the app is quite straightforward. Do you believe that solving the issue can be as simple as connecting producers with consumers at the right time?

As mentioned earlier there are many different challenges concerning this issue in society. We are aware that the app is not the solution, but we believe it is a start. The major improvements need to be supported by a horizontal movement. Food waste has 3 angles: environmental, economic and social, but we cannot take it all at the same time. Creating that movement and overall awareness will hopefully result in more action throughout the entire chain. Being the world’s biggest B2C platform against food waste, we can conclude the movement has begun and we are having a positive impact.

The movement has begun and we are having a positive impact.

What is the biggest challenge that you encountered in tackling the issue of food waste?

It wasn’t easy convincing stores to join in the beginning. But we managed to find 25 brave entrepreneurs in Amsterdam and we were very closely involved in the consumer experience.

After a tough start we have found amazing traction and have managed to scale up significantly. Today we have over 800 stores live on our app with whom we have saved over 130,000 meals. Our community consists of over 200,000 people only in the Netherlands.

And guess what: we were able to convince some of the biggest Dutch chains and retailers many of whom you know like HEMA and Albert Heijn.

What are your current and future plans for Too Good To Go? Will you continue to spread your service all over the globe?

At Too Good To Go we dream big, and we dream of the moment where the movement is big and strong enough to influence and transform the entire food system!

You’re nominated for the ECO Coin award, which celebrates innovations in sustainability. How do you feel your work fits in with broader sustainability efforts?

First of all, we feel honoured to be nominated for the ECO Coin Award 2018! It means that our impact is becoming more tangible, the movement is growing and most importantly, the awareness on the topic of food waste is growing as well.

But the word sustainability has become increasingly popular and sometimes it is important to take a step back and take a moment to think about what this word really means. The word sustainability is very broad and lacks clarity and understanding. At Too Good To Go we don’t focus on sustainability, but we are all connected by our core values to tackle the issue of food waste. We believe in a broader focus on impact, values and change.

 

Do you think that Too Good to Go should win the ECO Coin Award 2018? Cast your vote by tapping the heart below!

 

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