We have spoken about the surplus and salvage food business over and over again. And as usual South Africans looking to make a quick buck just wants “dry goods” boxed and canned products all the time. And yes these players have popped up everywhere – even in Cape Town and Europe.

Today we look at the opposite: freshly cooked and baked goods; restaurants, kitchens, bakeries, or grocery stores that may have goods that would otherwise end up as food waste by the end of the day.

As with Ugly Produce we have seen new apps to combat “food waste” enter the arena in the US in the form of “surprise bags”.

The players & what you can learn from them
Too Good To Go
Pitch: “Every year, one-third of food is thrown away. Too Good To Go is trying to change that. Use the app to rescue Surprise Bags filled with delicious, surplus food from businesses near you”. “Too Good To Go develops an app for fighting food waste and saving delicious food. Through the app, everybody can make a difference by saving perfectly good, delicious food from going in the bin. Its mission is to reduce food waste worlwide and their vision is to create a world where food produced is food consumed”.

Business Model
“Food outlets must notify the Too Good To Go about what they have available on each day, stating what sort of food they have (baked foods, meals, produce, vegan food), and the price for a ‘magic bag’, whose contents they determine; the user cannot choose, but the original prices will be three or more times the Too Good To Go price. Notification is made early based upon the quantity predicted to be left over, not at the end of a selling period”.

“Users must register to use the service. A mobile phone with an Internet connection running Android or iOS is needed. The user runs the Too Good To Go app, which lists outlets available within a chosen distance and time range. The customer can then order and pay for a ‘magic bag’. The supplier can cancel an order at any time if the expected surplus is not available — the purchaser is notified by text message — and the purchaser can cancel with two hours’ notice. The phone must be taken to the food supplier in a specified pickup time window, often 30 or 60 minutes long, and the transaction is finalised by swiping the app — connected to the Internet — to confirm collection”.

Pitch: “Join us in the fight against wasted food and buy meals from nearby restaurants up to 70% cheaper! Offered food is discounted because it was not bought today and could go to waste. Our application provides these meals when they are still delicious – and in addition much cheaper!”

So what do these apps do?
They connect people looking for cheap meals with restaurants and other shops that make perishable food that will no longer be fresh the very next day. Let’s say they come with 1 hour of closing, tomorrow that food is no longer fresh. So this is more like Uber Eats for shop “leftovers” and they aren’t even yesterday specials its just that tomorrow they will be yesterday specials.

So what places do is that they create mystery bags. Let’s say they have lasagna left, from the kitchen, lots of noodle salad, some malva pudding or even a custard copenhagen. They will then make portions up and sell it for cheaper than retail. So a portion of lasagna with noodles and malva pudding, let’s say retail was R60 for all three, they can sell that for half (R30) or even a third (R20) as closing time approaches. That would have been thrown out, the shop gets some money and someone gets a yummy meal. Worse case scenario maybe the shop breaks even and have more money to buy ingredients.

As of August 2022 Too Good To Go claims 164.000 businesses, serving 62 million users, have saved (sold) 155 million bags of food.

Venture Capital Too Good To Go vs Ugly Produce

Too Good To Go $45.7m (R820m) in venture capital
Misfit Market $526.5m (R9.4b) in venture capital
Imperfect Foods $229.1m (R4.1b in venture capital)
Do investors know something we don’t?

Is this the next paradigm for the salvage and surplus goods in SA?
The VAST majority of South Africans are poor, and more will be poorer as the ANC and their supporters continue to run the country into the ground. The question is how much is there of this type of food in SA? In major centers like Cape Town? This is a local business after-all.

I can’t see this working in a business hub run down slum dumpster like Johannesburg. That people are governed by a different logic. Any western concept should first be tried in the Cape Colony where people practice western customs like owning dogs as pets. So the location you operate in is essential.