Many of us are familiar with throwing out food because we didn’t eat it before it spoiled, or we bought too much of something and no longer want it.
The impact of food waste is staggering according to the World Food Programme, a global humanitarian organization:
- One-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year, approximately $1 trillion U.S.;
- All food produced but never eaten would be sufficient to feed two billion people;
- If wasted food were a country, it would be the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, after the USA and China;
- Consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa each year.
Danish company, Too Good To Go, has made it a mission to fight food waste and encourage others to do the same.
“Food waste is something we do every day,” said Sarah Soteroff, public relations manager. “So if we can think of food waste differently when we’re grocery shopping or meal prepping…to try and use that food up and not throw it away.”
The company advocates education on the impact of food waste and has an app that connects businesses that have unsold food with consumers at a highly reduced fee.
“It can be anything from baked goods, to produce, prepared meals, juices (etc.),” Soteroff said. “No difference in terms of quality, it just didn’t get sold that day.”
The food comes in a ‘surprise bag’ and is not itemized, which reflects the unpredictable nature of food waste, Soteroff added.
Customers can search for items in several ways including by category, dietary restrictions and location.
Too Good To Go came to B.C. in September 2021, and the app recently launched in Kelowna, with several coffee shops, fast food outlets, restaurants, and grocery stores already signed on.
“Approximately 600,000 meals have been saved in two years in B.C. alone,” Soteroff noted. “The savings for British Columbians is $7.5 million and earnings for food businesses is more than $2.6 million.”
She added that the average B.C. family loses about $2,000 to food waste every year.
A 2019 report by Toronto food rescue group Second Harvest found that 58 per cent of all food produced in Canada, more than 35 million tonnes, is lost or wasted every year. Being a relatively wealthy country, Soteroff said there is a somewhat frivolous attitude toward food waste in Canada, but added she believes that is changing.
“We’re starting to see, as prices continue to be high at the grocery store as inflation continues to rise, more and more people looking to lessen food waste.”
Soteroff added that the company’s mission is not just about saving money for customers or recouping potential lost profits for businesses.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that food waste contributes 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Lessening the impact of CO2 emissions from food waste is our ultimate goal,” she said.