FOOD & WINE

Travel With ‘Too Good To Go’ 

Published on: August 2, 2021 | Last Updated on August 5, 2021
A Too Good To Go Goodie Bag (credit: Les Kaner)

If you are an adventurous foodie who likes surprises and appreciates value, you may want to download the ‘Too Good To Go’ app before your next trip, domestic or international.

How ‘Too Good To Go’ works

Essentially, the free app allows you to purchase a surprise bag of daily leftovers (generally at a substantially reduced price of $4-6 a bag) from food “partners” who have signed up with the company. 

The partners (bakeries, groceries, restaurants, cafés, hotels, bagel shops, etc.), who also enroll free of charge, are able to sell foods they would normally throw away, at the marked down price. Of course, the contents of the bag vary by location, type of establishment, and the particular food products remaining that day. (For example, you are more likely to find bagels in New York City.) 

On the app, users identify their location and find out which partners in their neighborhood have signed up that day. If they decide to make a purchase, they pay for one or more bags online, in advance, and make a reservation to pick the bag up during a timeslot before the partner’s closing time. The app takes a commission of $1.79 per bag with the remainder of the purchase price going to the seller.

Muffin Cafe offering on Too Good To Go app (screenshot)

Muffin Cafe offering on Too Good To Go app (screenshot)

Although users get a bargain and the thrill of a surprise, there are some limitations: They have no choice in what specific foods they will receive, and the order has to be picked up, in person, at a particular time (when the establishment closes, which may be late), as opposed to having it delivered at your convenience.

What locations does the app cover?

The Muffin Cafe on Columbus Avenue in NYC is a 'Too Good To Go' partner.

The Muffin Cafe on Columbus Avenue in NYC is a ‘Too Good To Go’ partner.

The company, which first launched in Denmark in 2015, is expanding rapidly. It now operates in 15 countries (including Germany, France, UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Canada and Austria) and counts more than 105,000 participating partners. 

According to Food Business News, ‘Too Good To Go’ came to the US during the fall of 2020 and already operates in New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Austin and Portland. The company expects to be operational in most major US cities by the end of the calendar year. As one indication of its popularity, when the app launched in New York City in September 2020, more than 15,000 users signed up during the first month. Nonetheless, offerings in some cities are more spotty than others; even New York City pales compared to Milan. 

People usually found out about the app via word-of-mouth. I learned about it from my son who heard about it from a colleague in Milan. 

The compelling problem of food waste

Data on the ‘Too Good To Go’ Knowledge Hub suggests that approximately one-third of all food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted each year. This win-win program engages suppliers and consumers to reduce that staggering number and helps raise public awareness.

It is estimated that some 200 million pounds of food across the globe have already been saved through ‘Too Good To Go (TGTG).’ During a pandemic, with many segments of the hospitality industry struggling to survive, it also offers an opportunity for business owners to recoup a small portion of the cost of surplus inventory.

When the app launched in Chicago last month, Lucie Basch, one of the company’s co-founders commented, “Food waste is responsible for 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. It has great consequences both on the environment and the economy. And socially speaking, it’s absurd to throw away the food we produce when we know today that 870 million people are underfed.”

Another perk: Like taking advantage of local Restaurant Weeks, you may discover new businesses and new tastes in your own neighborhood or wherever you travel. 


Some examples of TGTG goodie bags on Twitter


August 5, 2021 Update: The Impact of Too Good To Go

The company’s impact report says that TGTG has saved over 28 million meals from being wasted in 2020, a 49 percent increase compared to 2019.

In the first four months of the U.S. launch, more than 145,000 Americans joined the app in the NYC and Boston markets. In addition, over 50,000 partners have joined Too Good To Go worldwide, with 4,000 of those in the U.S.

The company also recently announced its intention to be “carbon neutral+”, which means it will go beyond being carbon neutral in its environmental efforts.

Source: Specialty Food News Daily


Lead photo credit: Les Kaner for TGTG


BTW, this isn’t the only app designed to reduce food waste. Also, check out Your Local and Food For All.


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