Too Good To Go (TGTG) is a social enterprise established with the purpose of ending food waste, by connecting customers to restaurants, bakeries and stores that have surplus food.
How did the idea come to being and why does it matter?
TGTG was founded in 2015 in Denmark after one of the founders saw how perfectly good food was being thrown away and wasted in a buffet. Each year, around 2.5 billion tons of food are being wasted (amounting to approximately one third of the food produced), contributing to around 10% of the global greenhouse emissions. And so, in a quest to fight food waste, a group of tech-savvy European entrepreneurs created Too Good To Go, a social enterprise enabled through a mobile app.
How does it work?
The solution connects food producers (bakeries, restaurants) or food distributors (grocery stores) with consumers in different major cities across Europe and the US. The food producers and food distributors who want to use TGTG to eliminate their food wastage must create an account on the app and pay an annual subscription fee. Once these steps are completed, they can start advertising their offers for food, in a specific TGTG gamified way: food is distributed and packaged in “surprise bags” that typically cost ~$4-$6. The “surprise bags” are marketed on the TGTG app and can be picked up by customers in a certain time window, usually towards the end of the business daily working schedule.
For customers, using the app is as easy as 1-2-3: download the app, create an account and start searching for “surprise bags” in desired locations or from specific providers. The app allows customers to locate offers in the app, either by showing a list of all providers with offers or by searching for offers in a specific location through the TGTG map. While customers can select a “surprise bag” from their favorite provider, they do not have the ability to select the content of a “surprise bag”; in this way, TGTG creates a “trick-or treat” paid for experience for adults, who get to indulge not only in the contents of their purchase, but also in the satisfaction of doing something good for the environment.
Why use it? And…what’s in it for me?
The TGTG solution presents itself as a win-win-win proposal for all parties involved, including the planet.
Restaurants and groceries find through TGTG a way of reducing food waste. Thus they can present themselves as fighters against climate change by reducing their greenhouse emissions. More than this, they are introduced to a large network of consumers who are willing to pay for daily leftovers the merchants have to offer. In simpler terms, TGTG becomes the marketplace stores use to sell their surplus food for a cheaper price.
Restaurants can also use TGTG as a marketing tool, to introduce existing customers to new products. However, any attempt to misuse the app can trigger negative feedback from consumers, who in exchange can flag such partners on the app. In such cases, TGTG does not exclude the possibility of ending the partnership with such partner, as ensuring an excellent customer experience which leads to repeat purchases is essential for scale and needed volumes to tackle the issue of food waste.
Consumers get to enjoy surprise meals from their favorite stores at reduced prices. While the price per “surprise bag” varies between $4 and $6, the non-discounted value of the produces they receive is deemed to be x3. Moreover, the app is offering each user the option of tracking the number of saved “surprised bags”, amount of money saved, and CO2 saved as well. The best way of driving behavior change is by increasing the level of awareness on the impact of our choices. Consumers also enjoy a sense of belonging, as the social enterprise is taking pride in creating a community of over 66 million waste worriers.
The environment sits at the core of TGTG’s mission “to inspire and empower everyone to take action against food waste”. With over 170 million meals saved and over 170k partners on the TGTG network, the enterprise is aiming to reduce greenhouse emissions from food waste. At Too Good To Go, 1 Surprise Bag sold is counted as 1 meal saved, equalling on average to 2.2 lbs of food and hence 5.5 lbs CO2 saved.
Sure, it worked in Denmark… but is it scalable?
TGTG is currently present in 15 countries in Europe and in the US and the benefit of being primarily an app company offers the flexibility of scale, convenience, and ability to innovate. An important element is played by the lack of customization the solution requires for expanding in different markets: the solution can be plug and play in any country that showcases significant size and low barriers to entry. The profitability formula thrives on scale, as TGTG increases the revenues with additional partners and higher volumes of meals saved. Considering the urgency and scale of the social problem TGTG is addressing, the aim of the management team is to expand and scale as fast as possible.
Sounds too good to be true?
..it is not! I have used Too good to go and I have never been disappointed; on the contrary, I have had pleasant surprises as repeat purchases have led to building a relationship with the restaurant and additional goodies in the surprise bag. When are becoming a waste worrier?