Too Good To Go saves groceries from landfill

Düsseldorf Where much food is offered, much food is left over. If you use the app of the company Too Good To Go (TGTG) to find out where meals, salads, side dishes or baked goods have remained unsold, you will find more than 1000 shops in Berlin alone that offer these leftovers for collection. “Surprise bags” is the name of the offer, to which, for example, the delivery service Gorillas, the Bio Company or a Berlin donut shop contribute surplus goods.

“Too Good To Go”, too good to throw away. Customers can order and pick up food at half the normal price or cheaper via the intermediary. The bags are usually sold out within minutes. You can usually only pick them up from the suppliers in a time window of a few minutes just before the store closes. Then, says the CEO of the start-up, Mette Lykke, you would have saved fresh food from being thrown away – and made a bargain. “We are taking on one of the most urgent problems of our time,” says the entrepreneur from Denmark.

According to a WWF study, more than 18 million tons of food end up in the garbage every year in Germany – a third of the total food consumption. 19 percent of this occurs in the catering trade and company kitchens, 14 percent in retail and wholesale. With its business model, Lykke addresses this waste.

“We wanted to get a wide range of businesses on board,” she says, “so far we have more than 130,000 stores on our platform.” TGTG earns money with every surprise bag sold and therefore records how much is sold. Last year there were a total of 52 million meals, this year Lykke expects 87 million.

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Around 11,000 companies are taking part throughout Germany. Providers include Edeka, Real and Alnatura as well as Nordsee, Starbucks and Backwerk. Many small shops are also involved. According to TGTG, 11 million leftover portions have been sold in the local market so far.

Waste less, get more customers

Bennet Fiege, franchise entrepreneur of the Dean & David bistro chain in Berlin, has also been cooperating with TGTG for a few years. A few portions of salad, wraps or desserts remain in the display cases of his shops every day. About two or three people pick up a bag every evening via TGTG. “It’s not that nothing ends up in the bin anymore,” explains Fiege, “but it’s a lot less.” For him, TGTG also means getting customers who might not have come without the app.

TGTG on your smartphone

TGTG customers can use the app to buy leftover portions of food.

(Foto: Too Good To Go)

Too Good To Go was founded in Copenhagen in 2015 by the Danes Brian Christensen, Thomas Bjørn Momsen, Stian Olesen, Klaus Bagge Pedersen and Adam Sigbrand. Mette Lykke joined the CEO team in 2016. She discovered the app during a bus ride with her neighbor and became curious. Lykke himself approached the founders, who were looking for reinforcements at the time.

The manager brought the necessary experience with her. After a position at the management consultancy McKinsey, she co-founded the fitness app Endomondo in 2007, with which users could complete digital training sessions. In 2015, the US sporting goods company Under Armor bought the app for $85 million.

To date, TGTG has raised 70 million euros from investors. TGTG closed the first venture capital round in January 2021 with 25 million euros. The majority came from the Blisce Fund in the US and France, which focuses on consumer technologies with a social focus. The start-up is not yet making a profit.

The corona crisis in particular, including closures in the catering trade, had a strong impact on sales. At the same time, TGTG invested in expansion in the USA. “The number of our partner companies is now higher than before the crisis,” says the company, which is seen as an optimistic sign for the industry.

Small impact, big awareness

Professor Ulrich Jürgens from the Department of Geography at Kiel University contradicts the impression that an app can save kilos of food from spoiling. “The amount of food that is supposed to be saved is in the per thousand range,” says Jürgens, who researches the extent and causes of food waste.

With its concept, TGTG can sensitize many people to the topic of food waste. Nevertheless, it is not foreseeable whether the surplus goods might end up in the garbage at home. “The problem is that you attract a lot of bargain hunters,” says Jürgens. Ultimately, these are additional, mostly regular customers. Above all, it is important to create a greater appreciation for food in society. These are generally too cheap, which devalues ​​them.

“We found that the combination of a good cause and a good deal makes the app attractive for our users,” explains TGTG boss Lykke. “And there’s nothing wrong with that.” Aside from the business through the app, according to the CEO, the company started projects for the food rescue, such as a campaign to raise awareness about the best before date.

Serie: Social Entrepreneurship

It can happen that there are partner companies that TGTG only uses for additional customers, but not for the sale of leftover groceries. But it’s rare, she says: “We trust our partners and have been largely confirmed in the past.” Part of the contract with TGTG is to only actually sell excess food.

Elisabeth Hagen is responsible for the topic of food waste at the consumer advice center in Berlin. She sees an advantage in the app, especially for companies that offer buffets. “Buffet leftovers and what is offered on site cannot be donated so easily because of hygiene regulations,” she explains. However, it is allowed to pass this on in the trade. In general, she recommends companies to calculate food consumption more and more precisely.

More: The sell-by date could disappear from Europe’s supermarkets

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