Too Good To Go is fighting food waste with an app-based marketplace
App-based surplus food marketplace Too Good To Go is on a mission to change the way we think about food. I amsterdam sat down with NL Country Director Geertje Zeegers to discuss how the company is inspiring consumers and businesses to come together and fight food waste.
A food marketplace where everybody wins
Stopping perfectly good food from ending up in the trash is what gets Geertje Zeegers, NL Country Director at Too Good To Go, out of bed in the morning – and for a good reason. According to the United Nations, over 1/3 of all food produced globally is lost or wasted each year, most of which is still fit to be eaten. About 35% of this comes from supermarkets, shops, and households, meaning there is an opportunity for us as consumers to help fix the problem.
That’s where Too Good To Go comes in. Their app-based marketplace bridges the gap between leftover food and hungry bellies by connecting customers to local food businesses – including bakeries, supermarkets, and restaurants – offering a ‘Surprise Bag’ of unsold goodies at a discounted rate. It’s what Geertje Zeegers calls a win-win-win:
Working towards a world without food waste
Founded in Copenhagen in 2016, Too Good To Go landed in the Netherlands just 2 years later, opening their office near Amsterdam Central Station in 2018. The company’s vision has remained steadfast over the years – to work towards a world where the food we produce ends up in a person’s tummy and not the trash.
Since landing in the Amsterdam Area, their app has grown to nearly 4M users and saved 22M meals from going to waste in the Netherlands alone. Globally, their operations have expanded to cover most of Europe and North America, and the company’s latest figures report a total of over 81M app users and over 250M meals saved worldwide.
According to Geertje Zeegers, Too Good To Go’s explosive growth in recent years can be attributed to the increasing awareness and urgency around adopting sustainable practices. In the early days, the challenge was convincing people that a change was needed. Now, sustainability has become a priority for both businesses and consumers. Many companies and individuals alike are actively seeking ways to reduce their impact and do something good for the planet, and Too Good To Go offers an easy and accessible solution.
Sustainability is more than a mission statement
Walking through their office in Amsterdam’s city centre, it’s clear that the passion for saving and celebrating food is more than skin deep. From the package-free cereals lining the communal kitchen’s countertop to an assortment of ‘expired’ grocery store goods free for the taking, it’s clear that sustainability is more than just a company mission statement.
The employees themselves are the embodiment of the company’s ethos, bringing their own ideas and challenging the organisation to continue exploring ways to incorporate more sustainable practices. Walking past the company’s outdoor terrace, Geertje points out a rain collection barrel that is used to water the plants as an example of an employee-initiated idea.
The company hosts twice weekly ‘leftover lunches’ and makes containers available for taking food home, doing their best to ensure that nothing gets thrown away. And if employees are in search of some inspiration, they need only look to the walls for posters illustrating creative kitchen hacks or pick up one of Too Good To Go’s Remix Recipe cookbooks to discover new ways to save and reuse food.
Finding future ways to fight food waste
Tackling the 1.3B tonnes of food that is currently being wasted around the world each year is no easy feat, yet Too Good To Go is rising to the challenge. Optimism is a key part of the company’s approach to the future as they work towards inspiring people, businesses, and governments to work together to solve the issue.
Their plans to make an even bigger impact start with expanding their activities to other parts of the food chain. As of November 2022, they’ve implemented a system for getting surplus food from manufacturers like Unilever directly into the hands of customers.
While their app functions as an end solution, their mission extends beyond just saving surplus food. They want to prevent waste before it even happens. The company’s aim is to inspire a collective shift in the way we generate, package, consume, and think about food products. This has led to them getting involved with local policy makers to draw attention to issues like unnecessary date labels that cause perfectly good products to be thrown away.
With the abundance of food around us, it’s easy to forget the value it holds. Through their activities, Too Good To Go hopes to inspire everyone to rethink how we treat this invaluable resource.
Amsterdam inspires good companies to grow better
Settling in Amsterdam was a natural fit for Too Good To Go, who came to the region looking to expand into major European markets and tap into the thriving food innovation ecosystem. It also hasn’t hurt that Dutch consumers have a reputation for being open to new ideas, ranking as the leading European market for plant-based products.
According to Geertje Zeegers, these combined factors have been the rocket fuel to the company’s success:
As we wrap up our interview, Geertje Zeegers has one last piece of advice for those looking to land in the Amsterdam Area: