UNFI To Extend Reach Of Too Good To Go Program

Distributor to bring food rescue app to grocers in more cities

Grocery distributor United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) is expanding its partnership with food waste reduction app Too Good To Go into more markets.

A certified B-Corp, New York-based Too Good To Go provides an app that gives consumers access to an online marketplace of surplus food that would otherwise be discarded by grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, and other merchants. UNFI said that, since piloting the app in its Atlantic region, Too Good To Go has become one of the fastest-growing solutions available to retail customers through its UNFI Professional Services arm, with the number of grocers offering the program nearly doubling after the first year.

Too Good To Go is available to UNFI retailers in selected cities nationwide, including New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Portland (Ore.), and plans call for the program to roll out to the distributor’s customers in additional cities this year, UNFI reported.

“A core value underpinning UNFI’s ESG [environmental, social, and governance] priorities is our long-standing commitment to doing what’s right for people and the planet while working to assure a safe and nutritious food supply for everyone,” UNFI Chief Growth Officer Matt Whitney said in a statement. “We embrace the opportunity to use our expertise, influence, and scale to be a force for positive change within the food system, and we strive to help retailers implement simple solutions that make a real, lasting impact.”

Via the Too Good To Go app, consumers can browse soon-to-expire and surplus food from grocers and purchase it at substantially reduced prices for store pickup. 

The Too Good To Go mobile app connects people with businesses that have extra food so it can be eaten instead of wasted. When grocers have soon-to-expire or surplus food, they bundle it into “surprise bags” offered significantly reduced prices. Shoppers reserve the bags using the Too Good To Go app and then are allotted a time window to pick up the food at the store. Providence-based UNFI said consumers benefit by getting good food at “greatly discounted” prices, and businesses benefit by reaching a new customer base while recovering the cost of food earmarked for a landfill.

Both consumers and merchants also help fight climate change and food insecurity in the process. UNFI in 2020 set goals to halve food waste in its distribution centers by 2025 and eliminate all waste to landfills from DC operations by 2030.

“We are excited to work with UNFI to expand our ability to save more food by connecting our users with uneaten, extra products at independent retail stores,” commented Tyler Simmons, head of U.S. key accounts at Too Good To Go. “By working together, we can help ensure delicious food doesn’t waste. That’s a big win for people, businesses, and our planet.”

For example, UNFI said wholesale customer Green Zebra Grocery in Portland, Ore., fills its Too Good To Go bags with prepared food and bread, dairy products, and produce at the peak of freshness, offering $15 worth of food for $4.99. According to the distributor, 99% of Too Good To Go users have given their experience an average of four stars.

“Our customers love getting fresh, healthy food at drastically reduced pricing through the Too Good To Go program, and we feel good about reducing food waste,” stated Lisa Sedlar, founder and CEO of Green Zebra Grocery. “The more natural and organic food consumed by our community members, the better.”

North America’s largest publicly traded grocery distributor, UNFI, operates nearly 50 distribution centers and supplies more than 30,000 retailers in the United States and Canada, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers, and foodservice providers.