By Caitlyn Robison
TORONTO — Too Good to Go, the world’s leading anti-food waste app and largest B2C marketplace for surplus food, launched in Toronto last month, making Canada the 16th country to join the movement.
Too Good to Go’s goal is to create a world without food waste and works every day to make that vision a reality by empowering Canadians to divert the more than 50 per cent of food that goes to waste in the country and address the climate crisis. Founded in 2016, this simple world-changing idea was born in Denmark and quickly spread across Europe and North America.
The app connects consumers with local stores, restaurants, bakeries, cafés and other food sellers, enabling users to purchase and pick up a ‘surprise bag’ of surplus food for one-third of the retail price from participating businesses. The surprise bag addresses the unpredictable nature of food waste and allows businesses the flexibility to save all food that would otherwise go to waste, including prepared food and beverages or surplus ingredients advertised as meal kits.
“Despite everyone’s best planning efforts in trying to match supply and demand, there is usually surplus food left over at the end of the day,” says Sam Kashani, Too Good to Go country manager for Canada. “Our platform enables everyone to join the fight against food waste.”
This win-win-win model means businesses reduce waste and generate income on food that would otherwise have been thrown out; consumers discover new businesses and receive a delicious meal at the fraction of the cost; and most importantly, the planet benefits because another collection of food is saved from contributing to the existing eight to 10 per cent of all greenhouse gases caused by food waste.
“The average consumer may not know that food waste is a great contributor to greenhouse gases,” adds Kashani. “For us to inspire Canadians and citizens of the world, we really focus on ensuring they’re aware that food waste is a direct cause of climate change and that we can all do something about it. With a simple tap on your phone, we empower people by giving them the tools to join the fight.”
Additionally, Too Good to Go creates a platform that is easy to use for its foodservice partners. Businesses don’t have to come in each morning knowing exactly what they are going to put in the bag.
Eataly, Greenhouse, Fresh City Farms and Mabel’s Bakery are among the roughly 100 partners selected to partner with Too Good to Go because of their individual commitments to sustainable practices and their existing efforts to help limit food waste in their production and distribution streams. “They take in a zero-waste mindset as a part of their operations and understand that the byproduct of speed, quality and volatility is waste,” explains Kashani.
Launched in 2014, Greenhouse is a certified B Corp whose mission is to offer widespread sustainable access to plant based nutrition at the highest quality. Based in Toronto, the organic-beverage company factors the planet into every decision it makes. The business always bottles in glass, provides its consumers with a bottle recycling program, uses produce seconds, packages its waste and upcycles fiber.
“Waste mitigating has been central to our cause from the beginning. With this app we can do two things that are close to our heart — reduce waste and make our healthy products more accessible,” says Emma Knight, founder of Greenhouse.
Users of the app can look forward to receiving a surprise bag made up of Greenhouse’s beloved beverages or plant-based, organic, local products from its ‘plant pantry.’
Too Good to Go is also partnered with the Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto and will continue to expand its partnerships as it scales across the country. Customers may choose to contribute to the Daily Bread’s battle against hunger through an in-app donation feature that will be live shortly.
Over the last year and a half, Too Good to Go has witnessed food sellers struggle to realistically budget and plan when faced with the unpredictable restrictions that have led to closings, re-openings and limited operations, thus causing a surplus in food.
“COVID-19 has added a lot of uncertainty for everyone in every business — we are no different,” says Kashani. “However, if anything, it has accelerated our premise and needs to work with our partners. We’ve seen increased usage of our platform because demand has become even more volatile than it has been, and we have continued to take all the precautions while expanding to engage and provide our partners with the tools and platform to help reduce food waste.”
Food waste is a global issue, but Canada is a leading contributor, ranking third in avoidable food waste, ahead of the United States. The amount of food wasted is enough to feed every Canadian for five months.
“For me, the one stat that changed my life is from the Project Drawdown study in which they point out that food waste is the number-1 action we can take to help combat climate change,” explains Kashani. “As an immigrant Canadian, coming here about 23 years ago, I worked in frontline restaurants for many years. Seeing the amount of food that goes into the trash were micro moments for me that have built up to this moment in being able to launch this platform in Canada.”
The app, which already has more than 40 million active users in 15 international markets, has empowered Waste Warriors to save more than 82 million meals since 2016. In 2020 alone, Too Good to Go welcomed over 50,000 new partners and saved more than 28 million meals from going to waste.
“We are heavily invested and established here in Toronto now,” says Kashani. “It’s been early days, but incredibly positive. We have saved over 2,500 meals that would otherwise have been thrown out. We will be adding stores daily on our platform in the core Toronto and soon GTA area.”
Too Good to Go plans to expand into the West Coast in the coming weeks, beginning in Vancouver. Following this, the app will launch in Montreal and Quebec and then continue into the rest of the country.