It was late night in Copenhagen and the five of them were dining at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Closing time was approaching and the people in charge of the premises began to remove the trays, still quite full of food in perfect condition, and to throw their contents away. Kilos and kilos of food that, not being sold throughout the day, went directly to the landfill and they sowed the germ of Too Good To Go, an application that the five friends who witnessed that waste created to try to prevent such scenes from repeating themselves.
In Too Good To Go any business with a surplus of food at the end of the day or with products close to their expiration date you can sell it for a price three times lower than what they have under normal circumstances. In this way, they encourage users to buy items that would otherwise be difficult to find and contribute to reducing food waste, one of the greatest challenges for humanity to achieve sustainable development according to the United Nations Organization ( UN).
This surplus sale is organized through ‘surprise packs’, batches of products that are configured with what is left over throughout the day and in which the content varies from day to day, in such a way that the user can get a rough idea of what he is going to buy, but he will never know exactly what food is included in his purchase.
“It is impossible for establishments to know in advance what surplus they are going to have each day, so the content is a surprise, although users can have an idea of what it will be depending on the type of business. For us, the important thing is that the products included are of quality, mostly food made on the same day or food close to their preferred consumption date ”, Madalena Rugeroni, country manager of Too Good To Go in Spain and Portugal.
This particularity, added to the fact that in Spain it is not usual to buy food close to being passed at a lower cost, as it does in other countries, made the landing of this Danish application on the Iberian Peninsula complicated, according to Rugeroni. However, little by little the idea has taken hold and today Too Good To Go presents solid figures: It has more than two million users, some 6,000 businesses that sell their surplus in it and have managed to “save” two million packs, which is equivalent, according to the company, to having avoided the waste of 2,000 tons of food.
“There has been a lot of communication and awareness work on food waste in Spain on our part, and now users understand the concept very well. Although it is a surprise, They are taking food at quite reduced prices, at a third of its original value, and with it they are doing something positive for the planet”, Says the country manager of Too Good To Go in Spain and Portugal.
All Too Good To Go surprise packs have a price between 2 and 5 euros and, according to the Danish company and some of the businesses that participate in it, the original value of those lots is between two and three times higher. Alcampo, for example, sells food worth 12 euros at 3.99, while the Scorching Restaurant, in Toledo, offers menus from 11.9 euros at 4.99.
And depending on the type of business, the collection times of the packs vary. For restaurants, leftover lunches can generally be picked up after 4:00 PM, and dinners after 11:00 PM. Bakeries and greengrocers, meanwhile, usually offer their lots in the afternoon, while in large supermarkets it depends on whether the packs carry fresh products, which are offered near closing time, or are made up of packaged foods close to their expiration date, which can be placed in the app at any time of the day.
Is it profitable to sell on Too Good To Go?
By selling food for three times less than usual, Too Good To Go’s proposition is very advantageous for users those who do not mind the peculiarities of the surprise packs or eat a little later than usual. But are such low prices profitable for businesses?
Some of the establishments consulted by SamaGame, especially small businesses, point out that the products they sell by Too Good To Go are a surplus that, otherwise, they would have to throw away, so any profit they make with them, even if it is below the cost of buying and preparing the food, is beneficial.
“We have been working with them for more than a year. As soon as they proposed it to me, I saw that it was a way to take advantage of all that food that is prepared and that is not given out. So we do not throw away the food and we get an economic return”, Explains Óscar González, head of the Scorching Restaurant.
Darío Marcos, from the Panadarío bakery in Madrid, expresses himself in similar terms: “We have been open for 5 years, and from the beginning we did not want to throw away anything of our product, because our bread is of quality, like the old ones, artisanal, that lasts three or four days. But people are not used to buying bread from the day before, so nobody wanted it, even by putting it ourselves at a lower price. When we first met Too Good To Go two years ago, it seemed ideal for this. Now we throw away absolutely nothing”.
For large chains, on the other hand, the economic section of this initiative is not as important as including these actions in their corporate social responsibility strategies. “Our motivation is, above all, environmental and social, economic income is not that important to us, because it is very small”, Says Cristina Joven, head of external relations and CSR at Alcampo.
And it is that, in addition to reducing the price of food to a third, Too Good To Go is financed through a percentage of commission charged to establishments for each pack soldTherefore, the income obtained by the food businesses from the sale of these lots is really small.
“Before working with Too Good To Go we tried not to waste food by donating surpluses to food banks. But banks are very diverse and we are in many places, so sometimes we did not have the means to quickly get them products that were close to expiration”, Explains the head of external relations and CSR at Alcampo, who specifies that now these foods can be used thanks to the Danish application.
Alcampo works with Too Good To Go in all its establishments in Spain since last November 30.
Bad uses of the app
Too Good To Go was intended to circulate surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. However, there are some businesses that, according to Darío Marcos, They use this application as one more commercial channel to attract new customers.
“We do not do like other establishments that, I know, they increase their production to have another business route and make their packs more tailored. For me that is not the objective of this application, I have it deactivated and I only use it on days when I really have something left over. Sometimes I only have sliced bread left over, and that’s what is in the batch, and there have been people who have angered me, but the initiative is like this, ”says the head of Panadarío.
As for businesses that offer products in poor condition or do not respect the Too Good To Go conditions of use, Madalena Rugeroni ensures that they constantly monitor user complaints and establish scores to find possible bad practices. “We only maintain establishments that have a good score. When someone accumulates bad reviews and complaints, we investigate it, and if we believe that it is not of sufficient quality, we remove it from the app ”, he assures.