According to USDA estimates, 30-40% of the US food supply is wasted.
Some of this waste is unavoidable, like when a refrigerator breaks down and frozen food spoils.
In other circumstances, waste is a predictable problem.
“We are a bakery. We have to order a few days in advance,” said Michael Stansfield, catering director at Pain Quotidien. The restaurant chain includes several establishments on both coasts. “We try to do our best to calculate our sales, but it turned out that we were throwing away more than we could sell.”
The Stansfield team found a solution to some of their food waste issues by partnering with a restaurant app called Too Good To Go.
“Customers seem to like it,” Stansfield said. “Our team has noticed that customers who have started using Too Good To Go come back, without having to use Too Good To Go, to buy other products. They can try it, taste it, and then if they like really, they’ll be back and getting it for that full price.”
Restaurants make “goodie bags” using leftover food, then use the app to sell those bags at a discount.
“Let’s talk about a pizza place,” said Claire Oliverson, US marketing manager for Too Good To Go. “Sometimes they sell 45 pizzas a day, sometimes they sell 55. They always need a little buffer at the end of the day. They’ll take a slice of pepperoni, a slice of cheese, and a special of the day, and they’ll put it in a “goodie bag,” and you’ll get it back, as a consumer, for a third of the price.”
The app measures climate savings for each restaurant.
Stansfield said Le Pain Quotidien restaurants have saved nearly 4,000 meals over the past 30 days.
Since partnering with Too Good To Go, Stansfield noted that his company’s goodie bags have kept nearly 46 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
By comparison, the average American produces about 16 tons of CO2 each year.
“You come into the food industry because you love food and want to celebrate it, and you have a great relationship with it,” Oliverson said. “We wanted to provide an ideal solution for these partners, where they no longer have to throw away that food.”
Too Good To Go is operational in over a dozen US markets.
There are not many direct competitors on American soil.
Nonprofits like We Don’t Waste partner with restaurants to reduce food waste, and apps like Misfits Market and Flash Food offer people a way to shop for discounted goods.
Neither option offers the same direct link between restaurant and consumer as Too Good To Go.
“A lot of it depends on our own demand,” Oliverson said. “As we think about our own carbon footprint and how we present and shop, the more we demand solutions like this, the more available they will become.”