When in Copenhagen – Fredriksberg

„How to fight food waste hands on?“ With TooGoodToGo

During my bicycle travel along the EuroVelo 10 path up north through Scandinavia, I realized how stuffed my bike was. Besides my four paniers I carried a big red, waterproofed bag as some of you may know from canoying. Now retospectively, looking on taken photography, I’m able to laugh about that. Back then not at all. More precisely, I doubted my travel experience.. As being a backpacker before, I knew that a minimal luggage is the basis for a smooth experience on travels, but still I packed in too much. Inside the panniers you saw too many clothes, unnecessary (luxurious) camping gear such as a fat bag sofa and fooood. Everywhere I cycled, everywhere I stopped overnight, I witnessed wide-eyed people, because they couldn’t believe all the entire luggage I carried.

Indeed, everything I took with me especially for eating on my bicycle weighted a lot extra. Probably I could have nourished a whole family for days. To sum up, the amount of food I carried was way over the average. And here we go – two main disadvantages came across:  firstly according to the extra luggage you slow down as you feel every kilogram of weight when cycling uphill. Secondly, the food became rotten quickly. Personally, I enjoy crazy challenges as I felt soon that my body got used to the amount of considerable efforts. Nevertheless my conscious mind was concerned about the food waste, which popped up. After researching I found out that Copenhagen is one of the biggest places for fighting food waste. Especially, the company “TooGoodToGo” offers ways of getting reasonable food at a cheaper price, which is great in particular for travellers like me! So I went to see Mads, one of the TooGoodToGo shop managers, in Frederiksberg north-west in Copenhagen.

In that which follows you find the interview with Mads talking about the company’s roots and values and what he dreams of. Enjoy!

Insights from the TooGoodToGo shop in Copenhagen

Mads, thanks for being here today with us! Can you tell me more how it all began? Where are the origins of TooGoodToGo?

We saw all of this today’s food waste. The starting point was here in Copenhagen 2016, when our founders went into an Asian restaurant witnessing, that they scoop all the food away after closing hours. Immediately, our five founders Thomas, Stian, Adam, Brian and Klaus thought about an action plan how to fight this problem. Considering the big amount of all-you-can-eat restaurants like this, they realized soon how massive the impact of food waste is nowadays. That was the starting point of outlining a concept, in which people buy that food at a cheaper price. Technically, our founders wrote it into a business case at Copenhagen Business School. In front of investors they pitched the concept at a certain TV-show and started scaling.

How does the concept of TooGoodToGo works in detail?

TooGoodToGo comes down to a smartphone application, which connects restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries such as places of food production with people like you and me. For instance, I am able to see, if there are some left-overs at the bakery down the road. In that case, TooGoodToGo enables me to pick up the food at a cheaper price. Generally, it’s day to day basis. That’s why you never know, what you get in your food bag. It varies how much food waste the participating places have. Quickly, this concept deemed to be a good idea, as a massive community got on board, both food places and users, who pick up the left-overs. So this is what happens: Companies stop throwing food away and people can be feed at low cost. Regarding this win-win situation, we are now able competing food waste at a very high level, scaled in eight different countries in Europe.

As I understood so far, only fresh products are sold at a cheaper price to the people, right?

TooGoodToGo breakfast from a Norwegian hotel

Correct, all food products meet superior health standards when being sold via the application. Beyond that, we fight food waste at an earlier stage of the production right now. This is also, why we are here in our shop in Copenhagen – Frederiksberg today. Warehouses do have the opportunity to donate dried goods to us, for example like spices, tea, raisins, oil and so on. Sometimes companies donate goods for simple reasons, because their packaging changed and older versions can’t be sold anymore. And again, people find those available goods online and can come for a grocery here. We are trying to take it as big as possible, because we witness, that up to one third of the food, that has been produced is thrown away nowadays. This is a tragedy, according to the massive over production in the world. The climate is such an important topic on all political agendas and food waste is such a big player in terms of having a dramatic impact on that.  

How do people react to your attempt of fighting food waste?

When people realized that this [TooGoodToGo] is happening all due to current circumstances of food waste, they were shocked not knowing the dimension in practice. Soon, the atmosphere turned into supportive mode as people want to contribute what they can, regarding the fight of food waste. This is what I feel of being a part of this shop right here. Moreover, the connecting spirit is in all of us, the participating companies and users. In fact, this can be the start, how we might make a difference. People are able to participate in the fight of food waste on an individual level and take part in something that they think does better.

Alright, let’s assume that I work in a company, which wants to participate in your attempt to fight food waste. How does the process functions?

Everyone is welcome! It’s a very easy, I would call it, organic process. We named it “on boarding” concept. You simply go to our website and give information about the name, type, amount of portions and further details. Like this companies can become a part of the project straightforward. After that, they are connected to the application and everything starts running automatically. It’s very easy to participate. Companies get rid of their left-overs and fill peoples tummies. Superb!

Many thanks Mads for taking time and doing this interview! According to the UNICEF project “Dreams are borderless”, that I participate in with my cycle journey through Scandinavia, I would like to ask you personally: What do you dream of?

Well, I dream of a world without food waste!

Interviewing Mads from TooGoodToGo in Copenhagen