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I could look back to 2015 when we were in the midsts of developing the concept, and people I spoke to about it didn’t quite understand what we were trying to do. That could have been down to us needing to fine-tune our message, but the conversations we’re having with people now are focused around their question of why this hasn’t happened before; that it just makes sense. We’re constantly trying to connect with our consumers more to educate them further about the importance of fighting food waste.
We launched in Leeds and Brighton originally, which means we’ve never been London-centric. We’re available in 83 towns and cities across the UK – from Plymouth to Aberdeen. Because of this we’ve received nationwide press exposure which has led to consumer appetite across Britain. We work with everyone from independent market stalls to contract caterers, supermarkets and hotels. The important thing to stress is that we’ve made our model as adaptable as it can be in order for us to be able to save as much food as we can. It’s incredibly simple for businesses to get involved, and we aim to have as low an operational impact as possible. The ‘magic bag’ format means that businesses don’t have to itemise what food they’re selling or putting to waste – it really is a case of selling whatever is left over. One day it could be cheeses, the next salads, and the next pastries or desserts.
People always ask me what success looks like for Too Good To Go, and my answer is always for us to not be needed any more. Whether or not that’s achievable remains to be seen, but in the meantime we’ll be working hard to save as much food from being wasted as possible. From my perspective the food industry is going to shift more and more to sustainable and ethical practices. That’s what consumers are demanding; they’re wanting answers from businesses on questions such as where they’re sourcing from and whether they’re doing so ethically, as well as evidence that they’re working towards sustainability proactively rather than reactively.
What we’re doing is disruptive; we’re changing the way the food and drink industry has historically worked. We’re placing a value on something which businesses have traditionally had to spend a lot of money to get rid of – by that I mean their waste and waste disposal costs – we’re shifting an established approach, so this journey hasn’t been easy for the Too Good To Go team.
You can see that from the turn of the Millennium there’s been a rise in ethical spending – you’d be hard pushed to go into an established retailer and see non-Fairtrade bananas; it’s become normalised. This isn’t just a box-ticking exercise now, it’s being taken seriously by businesses who want to show that they’re being sustainable in their practices – either by sourcing in a sustainable way, or taking steps to avoid any wastage of the resultant food or drink product.
I speak about food waste, which comes with connotations of poor quality – it isn’t necessarily the right term. We’re speaking about surplus food; it’s perfectly good food, but up until now we haven’t been smart enough to prevent it from going in the bin.
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