Too Good To Go expands to Detroit to reduce food waste through restaurant discounts

A Too Good To Go bag from Give Thanks Bakery

Americans waste a lot of food, but an app that recently expanded to Metro Detroit is aiming to get that food on plates and out of landfills.

The United States throws away approximately 120 billion pounds of food a year, according to Recycle Track Systems. The bulk of that waste comes from homes, followed closely by restaurants, grocery stores, and food service companies. 

Too Good To Go partners with restaurants to help the eateries sell surplus food to customers at a discount. It's pretty simple - the restaurants list surprise bags on the app that customers can claim for a small fee and pick up during a specified time. 

A bag of surprises

The app is open to restaurants, grocery stores, and food suppliers. You may have seen a few chain eateries on the app before this spring, but the app officially launched earlier this month. Currently, nearly 80 Metro Detroit businesses have signed up for Too Good to Go. 

Surprise bags in Metro Detroit typically range from $3.99 to $6.99, and could contain anything from entrees and baked goods to ingredients used at the restaurant. Restaurants set the surprise bag prices, so some bags may cost more depending on what they contain. Customers can expect to pay about ⅓ of what the items would have cost at full price. 

Baked goods are the most popular category of leftover food, but any unsold food item could end up in your bag.

"It's really fun for the customer," said Too Good to Go spokesperson Sarah Soteroff, referring to the surprise that comes with each bag.

She said the variety "reflects the unpredictability of food waste."

Some restaurants now available on Too Good To Go in Detroit include Mootz Pizzeria, Go Sy Thai, and Dessert Oasis. Beyond the city limits, you can find surprise bags at Kitty's Cheesecakes, Spreads Bagels & Cafe, and Zestia Greek Street Food, just to name a few. Since the Detroit launch, the app is now also open to restaurants statewide.

Give Thanks Bakery sells leftover baked goods through Too Good To Go

The cost of food waste

According to the Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, food is the most prominent waste in the state's landfills. That waste is bad for the environment, the economy, and people in need.

According to data from Too Good To Go, food waste is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Additionally, about 25% worth of freshwater is used annually to produce food that gets wasted.

These food losses amount to around $1.1 trillion lost annually.

Beyond the environmental and economic issues, this food is going to waste while millions of people go hungry. 


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Too Good To Go got its start in Coppenhagen in 2016. It then launched in the U.S. in 2020, and it is now active in 30 cities across 17 states. Soteroff said the app has helped save about 330 million meals worldwide, with 12 million saved in the U.S. alone. 

According to Soteroff, since Too Good To Go expanded to Michigan, around 3,200 meals that otherwise would have ended up in the trash have been saved.

Beyond keeping food out of the trash, Soteroff said using the app helps both participating businesses and customers financially. Participating businesses are charged a small fee to use the app. Through the app, Soteroff said these businesses have been able to earn an estimated $39 million from food sold through the app that otherwise would have ended up in a dumpster. Meanwhile, she said customers have saved about $120 million by purchasing discounted food through the app.

Once you make your first Too Good To Go purchase, the app tells you how much you've saved compared to retail price. 

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