Too Good To Go: “We’re Trying To Highlight That Food Is Food”

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88 millions of tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU alone. We spoke to Jamie Crummie, co-founder at Too Good To Go, about tackling this problem with technology and vision:

How would you describe Too Good To Go in a few words?

Too Good To Go is affordable and sustainable eating for everyone; feel great while eating well!

Your app offers users the possibility to buy food that would otherwise be thrown out by restaurants, with obvious benefits for both sides. What inspired you to create the anti-food waste startup? How did it all start?

The idea came about as a solution to tackling food waste in the hospitality industry, the app was founded with the mission to place the lost value back onto food as something that should be eaten and not thrown away. We’re trying to highlight that food is food – our most valuable resource of energy – and not a mere consumer commodity.

Too Good To Go started back in 2015 as a website, with Chris Wilson and me looking to address the crazy problem of food waste that we have here in the UK. After launching the site and getting going, we met a few Danish guys who were wanting to address the same issue in Scandinavia. From sharing the same passion for addressing this global issue we joined forces and created Too Good To Go.

The food industry in on the rise, with many more startups joining the ecosystem. What makes Too Good To Go stand out of the crowd?

Too Good To Go stands out from the crowd as we are a social enterprise, meaning that we are sustainable as a business while also being a source for good. We offer both stores and customers a way to feel great and play their part in reducing food waste, as well as being a platform that gives stores great corporate social responsibility exposure and offers new customer acquisition, and customers the chance to get great food at a great price.

Put simply, Too Good To Go is win-win-win: customers get to try new food at a low price; stores make money from food that would have otherwise been thrown away while attracting new customers; but most of all the environment wins with less food going to landfill and fewer greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere!

Around 88 million tonnes of food is wasted annually in the EU alone. Despite people are aware of this fact, only a few of them seem to change their behavior. Apart from using your app, what practical measures should be taken on an individual as well as a governmental level?

For real change to come about, we must see movement from all angles. Governments can ensure de jure change within the food waste space which is essential for making concrete progress, but to bring about de facto change everyone must make an effort to help carry the movement. Simple steps such as reducing your weekly food shop so you aren’t throwing out food that has gone bad at the end of the week can make a huge impact if everyone were to do it. The importance of consumers driving change is crucial, as the pressure that consumers can put on big businesses can continue to drive changes in how they source food and produce waste.

You’ve recently been featured in our Breakdown on Startup Driven Innovation in the food industry. In your opinion, what other innovations will this sector experience in the near future?

The food waste sector and food waste industry, in general, will continue to see a drive towards the integration of technology into daily operations. Technology can be used as a tool for both efficiency and sustainability for food businesses, and this will become more prevalent going forward. This will help ensure food waste can be further reduced at all stages of the supply chain; starting from order control and stock management to quality assurance and finally waste reduction on the retail side.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced so far?

As with any startup, the early stages were when we faced the biggest challenges. When initially trying to explain the concept to both potential stores and customers, it was hard to convey the message that this was not food that was meant to be thrown out but food that would be thrown out if no one saved it. The idea of eating the food scraps off of people’s plates was what jumped into people’s heads – so it took some time to perfectly articulate our message and explain our concept correctly. It was largely about changing the mentality and perceptions of what food waste was, but nowadays this is a well-covered topic with lots of concern and focus.

You’re active in six European countries so far – what’s next for Too Good To Go?

Having so recently launched, we’re currently focused on tackling food wastage in the countries we are in now. That said, we are getting emails every day from people as far out as Brazil and Singapore to bring Too Good To Go to them – so who knows what the future has in store!

Food waste is a global epidemic, and if we can help to raise awareness of that then we’ve achieved something. There’s no limit in terms of where we can operate, therefore we hope to be able to expand and make a serious impact on food waste worldwide.

As a UK-based startup, what do you wish for in improving the European startup ecosystem?

As with anything, improved communication can always benefit those working within the same system. There are so many learnings and experiences that could be shared to benefit other startups. Connecting the ecosystem more would be a vast improvement as what one person does can always open the door for someone else. A prime example of this would be when looking at social media; the steps that each platform made lead the way for other platforms to emerge in the market and diversify in their own ways creating the vast spread of social media platforms we see today.

Essentially, by improving communication, collaboration, and integration we should improve the whole European startup ecosystem. There are so many amazing startups and organizations which are making huge strides in the technology, sustainability, and food industries and we all have so many experiences to share.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

The most important advice is to never give up and stay grounded in having attainable goals. We all set out to change the world and make a massive difference but if you don’t have attainable goals and targets it’s hard to measure your progress. Our goal to eliminate food waste worldwide will take time to achieve, and if we had set that target as our goal it would feel like we never achieved anything. In saying that, setting smaller targets on the way makes it easier to see what successes you have had. Essentially; reach for the stars but have attainable goals on the way!


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Disclaimer: This interview was conducted before TGTG’s appearance in Die Höhle der Löwen.