Tasting Notes: Global food app Too Good to Go lands in Edmonton

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There’s a new food app in town, but it’s not what you think it is.

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Too Good to Go won’t help you find the cuisine you’re looking for but it will help you save on food waste in the city and save you money in the process. The app does this by placing items normally thrown out by restaurants and bakeries at the end of the day into the hands of customers for one-third of the price. The idea behind the app can be traced to a group of friends in Copenhagen, Denmark

“They were out eating at a buffet that was about to close up and, as they were watching, an employee brought over a trashcan and started to throw the leftover food into a bin,” says Canadian Too Good To Go operations manager Sam Kashani, speaking during the app’s Edmonton launch on Wednesday. “They looked at their plates, and then looked up and said, ‘Hey, that’s the food I was just eating, and you’re throwing it out.'”

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This spurred the five friends to launch Too Good to Go in 2015, which was picked up by various European countries. The app made its way to Canada last summer, eventually popping up in Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Quebec City. Now in Edmonton, it’s already being used by more than 100 local food establishments and convenience stores, including Neo Juicery, Sugared and Spiced, Paradiso Pastries and Meuwlys. Kashani notes that they’re also in discussions with a few large chains about adding their wares to the offerings.

There’s no choice involved in the app, which is free, as the participating companies offer “surprise bags” of whatever happens to be available at the end of the night.

“Crackers are common,” says Meulys manager Bryan Sali. “There are mustards and jams, every now and then some meat products. House-made products like bacon jam, which is an exciting one, and homemade applesauce. ”

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There have always been a few establishments in any given city that have made sure to get their end-of-the-night products into people’s hands, but Too Good to Go adds your smartphone to the equation. The app takes a small service fee for each transaction, though consumers only end up paying a fraction of the normal cost directly to the food establishment. As Kashani notes, it’s good for the customer, good for the business and especially good for the planet. As an added bonus, users can try out new places they haven’t gotten to yet.

“If you use the app to pick up a surprise bag with a tart and a chocolate croissant, and you really like it, you might then want to go during the day and try their butter croissants,” Kashani said. “We’ve been seeing that with 76 percent of our users. They’ll experiment and try food from a new establishment, and then return as full paying customers. ”

The main goal, though, is to get perfectly edible food in the hands of people and not in the trash.

“That’s our philosophy as well,” says Sali. “It’s been really helpful with our cheese selection now that our cheesemonger has gone home to visit his family in India. We used to be able to just turn cheese into other types of cheese but we’ve basically had to throw it out when it expired. The thing is, when cheese is near its expiry date, we all know that just makes it better. I can’t sell it on my retail shelves, but with this app, we can at least let somebody else enjoy it. ”

yegarts@postmedia.com

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