Turning food waste into an opportunity

Nicola Knight
Senior Analyst - Food-To -Go

Date : 07 November 2019

The issue of reducing food waste in the food supply chain is one that has risen up shoppers’ agenda recently. In IGD Live’s Food-to-Go stream the founder of food waste app Too Good To Go, Jamie Crummie, and Planet Organic’s food director, Caroline Ottoy, spoke about how together they have turned the challenge of food waste into an opportunity.

Food waste: especially challenging in food-to-go

The environmental, social and economic impacts of food waste are more widely understood than ever before. According to Jamie, one third of food produced is wasted, at an economic cost of US$1.2 tn, while 870 people go hungry every day.

This raises consumers’ expectations that retailers and foodservice operators will be acting to address this issue. However, food-to-go providers are faced with the dilemma of ensuring a broad and attractive range of fresh food is available, knowing that some of the food will not be sold. In food-to-go, food waste is inevitable.

Using technology to become more sustainable

Too Good To Go is the world’s largest business-to-consumer app for managing surplus food. It operates in 13 countries. Between them, the 25,000 participating stores and 15m users have saved 20m meals from waste. From large scale multiple retailers, such as Morrisons and Carrefour, to coffee shops and local bakeries, retailers and food-to-go specialists find it a scalable solution to fighting food waste.

More companies are coming on board: this week, the UK’s largest coffee shop chain, Costa Coffee, announced it is extending its partnership with Too Good To Go to 100 stores following a successful trial.

How Too Good To Go Works

Towards the end of the day, stores collect unsold food into ‘magic bags’ and enter the number of bags on to the Too Good To Go app. Users can then use the app to reserve a magic bag and collect it from the store. Caroline explained how simple the system was for her store staff and how much they enjoyed making exciting combinations for the magic bags.

The benefits of solving the food waste issue

Across its eight stores Planet Organic has saved over 14,000 meals using the Too Good To Go app. The partnership has helped the retailer achieve its zero edible food waste target. However, solving the ethical issue of food waste is far from only benefit:

  • Attracting new customers: 6,000 unique customers have been brought into Planet Organic stores via the app, which is great for community engagement and footfall
  • Encouraging trial of new products: the magic bag gives a sense of discovery and offers customers a chance to try something new, which they will hopefully buy again
  • Great for staff engagement: team members enjoy what they are doing and feel positive about doing good for their community, boosting job satisfaction
  • Increased loyalty and staff retention: exit interviews with staff said they hated throwing food away; they are now empowered to address this

Planet Organic’s experience shows waste can be seen as a positive resource and using food waste to do good in the community can make sense commercially as well as ethically.

Get up to speed on what we see as the key influences and trends to watch out for in the year ahead, and see how retailers and food-to-go specialists alike are driving innovation to reach new customers, missions and locations…

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