The UK wastes millions of tonnes of food every year and it’s a problem that we simply can’t ignore anymore. We talked to Caroline from Too Good To Go a revolutionary app that is tackling the food waste problem head on.
What % of food manufactured in the UK ends up in landfills?
According to the latest WRAP estimates, approximately 1.5 million tonnes of food is wasted from the manufacturing sector annually – that’s around 16% of the UK’s total annual food waste!
Why was Too Good To Go created?
No one likes to throw perfectly edible food away, but it still happens on a daily basis. In the UK over 10 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year and more than one third of all food is wasted globally – that’s crazy when you realise the waste of resources and ultimately the damage that this is doing to our environment. Too Good To Go was created to be a simple solution to our global problem with food waste. Through the app, food businesses can recover sunk costs, meet new customers and reduce their environmental impact, while consumers can buy and eat great food that has gone unsold, all in the knowledge that they’ve prevented it from going to waste and stopped harmful emissions being produced.
With food shortages and supply chain problems, why is Too Good To Go so important?
The disruption we’ve seen in the supply chain since the beginning of the pandemic has been monumental and resulted in vast amounts of food wastage, simply because it hasn’t made it to retail and restaurant floors. But with Too Good To Go, we’ve been able to address this food waste as it moved further up the supply chain, working with producers, wholesalers, farmers and manufacturers to help redirect their surplus directly to consumers.
One USP we have at Too Good To Go is our Magic Bag concept which has proven invaluable given the uncertain times our food industry has been dealing with. Food waste is inherently unpredictable (never more so than right now) and so our Magic Bag concept was designed to be as flexible a tool as possible for our partner stores. Our Magic Bag concept allows our partners to fill it with whatever they have left, rather than planning contents in advance, and to increase or decrease the number of Magic Bags on any given day/week or month through an easy to use partner interface.
What has Too Good To Go achieved over the years it has been going?
Since its launch in the UK in 2016, Too Good To Go has grown from 3 countries (Denmark, France and the UK) to 17 countries, having taken the big step to launch in the U.S last year. We’re now growing at a steady rate of about 50,000 new users signing up every day and each week, they are saving one million meals from going to waste around the world which is just incredible!
What was the catalyst behind starting the app?
Our co-founder, Jamie Crummie (based here in the UK) first came up with the idea for Too Good To Go when working with Amnesty International during his former career in Human Rights Law. He attended an event that was purely catered for with food that would’ve been thrown away and realised that there must be a simpler and more accessible way to fight food waste than dumpster diving! This led Jamie to explore the impact technology could have, and while coming up with a solution he connected with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs in Copenhagen who worked together to create Too Good To Go – the rest is history!
How long was the app in development?
In total, it took about 6 months to get the app up and running. Initially, Too Good To Go started out as a website but the founders quickly realised that the best way to not only keep up with the growth of our business, but also to keep fighting food waste simple for our consumers was to turn it into the app we know and love today! The most important things when first developing the app were simplicity, flexibility and fun. It was designed to be a solution that is both simple for our partners and simple for users, and also while making fighting food waste fun and engaging! Creating an app allows us to become the food waste fighting tool that everyone can carry around in their pocket.
What has been the response to the app?
Our community of both partners and users are so engaged. We constantly get feedback to say how empowered people feel when using our app, because this is something concrete they can do to make a difference in the climate crisis. There’s a growing concern from consumers and business owners wanting to take action against climate change with the devastating effects of it hitting closer to home than ever before, and we’re definitely seeing this reflected in our rapid growth.
What are your key measures of success to date – outside of the stats on the website i.e. 6.5m finding and saving food, 14,246 businesses reducing food waste, 6.7 magic bags rescued – is this UK only?
[[Yes, these figures are for Too Good To Go UK. Globally, we have 44m users, 111,000 partner businesses and have saved 92 million Magic Bags from being wasted.]] For us, the biggest measure of how we’re helping the planet (and therefore our success) is how many Magic Bags of surplus food we are preventing from going to waste. It’s how we can track the direct impact of our app in tackling food waste in real time. To date, we’ve saved an amazing 6.7 million Magic Bags of food from going to waste in the UK. In doing so, we’ve also saved 16.8 million kg of harmful greenhouse gases (C02e) from being wasted. This saving is the equivalent yearly C02e emissions of 1,971 UK citizens. It was also a pivotal moment for the business when Too Good To Go became a certified B Corporation last year. This means we’re part of a global community of over 2,600 certified businesses, including Innocent, Patagonia and Alpro, who are using business as a force for good and leading the way in sustainable practices. On top of that we also want to create indirect impact alongside the app itself – we call this the food waste movement. We work within four different pillars: households, businesses, schools and public affairs, where we want to create awareness about the issue of food waste to the wider society. For example, we launched our ‘Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t Waste’ global initiative to eradicate food waste as a result of date label confusion when it comes to Best Before vs Use By dates. The initiative has brought together brands including Arla, Danone, Nestle and Unilever to amend date labelling on their products and educate consumers on their true meaning.
What are the benefits to participating businesses?
No business likes to throw away food and first and foremost, Too Good To Go helps businesses to prevent food waste and reduce the negative impact this has on the environment. Now more than ever it’s vital that we all play our part in combating climate change and using Too Good To Go is a simple and easy tool for every business to become more sustainable. Too Good To Go also turns this previously unsold food into
opportunity. Businesses are able to recover the otherwise sunk costs that would incur when this food is thrown away (some even choose to donate this recovered revenue to charity), meaning it’s economically viable, and also it helps them reach a whole new community of our app users that are ready and waiting to become potential new customers. Our research has shown that 80% of Too Good To Go users return as regular customers which is a strong incentive for any business.
What more can be done to raise awareness of this important issue?
Although consumers and brands are certainly becoming more conscious about acting ethically and sustainability, more needs to be done. We need to raise awareness of food waste so that it is seen by everyone as as big of an issue as plastic waste – our research shows that two thirds of consumers don’t realise the connection between food waste and climate change, and yet, food waste causes more global greenhouse gas emissions than the aviation industry.
Too Good To Go’s goal for the future is to drive global, monumental change in the way that we, as a society, value food. But to address food waste at all levels, a mindset shift needs to happen en masse. The reality is that food waste is such a huge issue, it won’t take one solution to fix it. Instead, we continue to innovate and collaborate with others in the space to educate and enable everyone to fight food waste together – whether it’s encouraging more companies to adapt their business models and introduce food waste solutions like ours, or giving individuals tips for reducing their food waste at home when cooking.
What targets have you set for the next 12 months?
Our main objective right now is growth. Food waste is a time-sensitive issue, and this is why we are expanding as fast as possible, trading in profitability of existing, mature markets, to set up new locations. In the UK, along with our partners and users, we’re just about to surpass saving 7 million Magic Bags saved, so we’re seeing fast growth here too. We have big plans for increasing the number of businesses listed on our app as well as encouraging people to change their habits and help rescue delicious food from going to waste, so watch this space!
How is the app helping to address food poverty in the UK?
We know that food insecurity is a huge issue across the world and we’re always exploring new ways in which we can support those who are food insecure, as well as the organisations that are working in that space. Earlier this year, we launched a national partnership with FareShare, to support and promote their redistribution work. Through this collaboration, consumers can make financial donations of £2, £4 or £6 directly to FareShare, through the donate function on the Too Good To Go app. In our day-to-day operations we seek to complement food insecurity efforts, so that Too Good To Go only receives and distributes food that is deemed unsuitable for food banks (for example because it is fresh food that can’t be stored properly or food that is close to its use-by date and must be distributed as soon as possible).
DO YOU HAVE A BUSINESS WITH SURPLUS FOOD?
You could be part of the solution
Too Good To Go can help you cut down on food waste – all while finding new customers and winning back sunk costs.