International app for discounted food launches in Saskatchewan

Kayle Neis/Regina Leader-Post. Store owner Jared Bugyi from Queen City Cakes stands for a portrait on Thursday, August 3, 2023 in Regina.

The phone app Too Good To Go allows businesses to sell food nearing its best before date — that would otherwise be wasted — at discounted prices.

Trillian Reynoldson, Regina Leader-Post

A new option to help prevent food waste while saving money has arrived in Saskatchewan.

The phone app Too Good To Go allows businesses to sell food nearing its best before date — that would otherwise be wasted — at discounted prices. Founded in Denmark in 2016, the service launched in Canada in July 2021. More than 6,000 Canadian businesses are currently registered.

Using the app, baskets of surplus food are posted at around one third of the original price, and customers can choose one in their location to pick up. 

There are 40 businesses signed up so far in Saskatoon and 39 in Regina.

While the app officially launched in the province Thursday, Jared Bugyi said his business, Queen City Cakes, has already been using the service for the past week.

“I have one package right now three days a week. It sells out everyday, so that’s good” Bugyi said.

In the past, not many of his customers would buy sale items at reduced prices. When he was approached by Too Good To Go, he thought it would be a good fit. One of the selling points, he said, was that he doesn’t have to market the service.

“They approached me and I thought that would be an awesome idea, let’s give it a shot,” Bugyi added.

Jigar Shah, who owns Prairie Doughnut and Poutine in Saskatoon, began using the app last week and also said it has been successful so far.

“I’ve had about 40 to 45 orders in the past five days,” he said.

“We always give fresh doughnuts to everyone. So, for example, if I made around 40 or 50 doughnuts but if somebody asked for just 12 doughnuts, then what should I do with the remaining doughnuts?”

Shah said he has given doughnuts away and donated them in the past.

“But sometimes it is hard to get some people to walk in here who want to try doughnuts,” he said.

“This is a nice concept. People can order and come here and they can get whatever we have left.”

Sarah Soteroff, Too Good To Go’s senior public relations manager, said when it comes to the guidelines of the food that can be sold on the app, “nothing that can’t be sold for full retail value can be sold on the app.”

She said the app is not a way for companies to extend the life of the food.

“A really good example is pizza cannot be under those heat lamps for more than three hours, so then it also cannot be in a Too Good To Go bag for that period either.”

She added the bag might contain items that are on their best before date, or one day past it if it was packed the night before.

Soteroff said new stores are frequently joining, and the app could expand to smaller Saskatchewan markets in the future. Their strategy is to start in more populated cities and move out from there, she said.

“We don’t want to be in a super remote area where there is just one store because it makes for a bad consumer experience and a bad business experience,” Soteroff said.

App users can filter their search based on categories like produce, baked goods or prepared meals and stores assign a time window for pickup.

According to Soteroff, participating businesses across the country have earned a combined $10 million on food that would otherwise go to waste. There is a $2 operational fee the app takes from every transaction, regardless of the price.

The City of Regina is rolling out its own plan to address food waste, implementing a new food and yard waste stream as part of municipal waste collection services. More than 67,000 green carts are arriving this month, and the first pickup begins Sept. 4. 

Food scraps, yard waste, pizza boxes, napkins and tissues can go into the carts, diverting around 50 per cent of the average household’s waste from the landfill. The carts will begin being delivered on Saturday.