Not so very long ago, the United States lagged far behind Europe in terms of the widespread availability of food rescue apps. Fortunately, a heightened awareness of the world’s food waste problem has changed this and created opportunities for food rescue companies in the U.S.
Case in point: Too Good To Go’s recent expansion westward. The company, originally started in Denmark, today announced its plans to expand across the United States, following a successful program in select East Coast states. The first stop is San Francisco, with 200-plus food businesses participating, including Mission Chinese, La Boulangerie, and Indie Superette.
Via the Too Good To Go app, users can browse surplus food options from participating restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores at the end of every day. They can then sign up for a “surprise bag” which includes surplus items from these businesses. Depending on the business from which it’s ordered, that bag could include pastries, extra sushi rolls, surplus produce, and many other items.
Too Good to Go brought its app Stateside in 2020, starting in New York City. The company followed that move with a $31 million fundraise at the start of this year, specifically meant to enable a wider expansion around the U.S.
And while the concept of food rescue might be more commonplace Stateside compared to a couple years ago, it’s still unusual in the restaurant biz. Grocery delivery services like Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods address the grocery sector. Canada’s Flashfood app, based in Toronto, Ontario, similarly addresses surplus food in the grocery store via its U.S. partnership with Meijer.
That leaves a wide-open opportunity for Too Good To Go when it comes to restaurants. After the San Francisco launch, the company will expand to Seattle on May 12 and Portland on May 19. The plan is to be in “many of the largest U.S. cities” by the end of this year.
That expansion comes at a time when the conversation around food waste has gotten much louder. In the U.S., 35 percent of all food went to waste in 2019, the most recent year for data. ReFED points out that “a massive acceleration” is needed in order to address this problem and meet national and international goals to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. That effort has to come from many different groups — government and regulatory bodies, food companies, restaurants, and tech companies alike.
Interested to learn who is innovating in that space to better help us reach that goal? Join The Spoon and ReFed on June 16 for a half-day virtual event discussing the businesses, innovators, and capital partners behind the country’s fight against food waste. Reserve a ticket today.