Too much of a good thing

14. February 2020, Editorial

Breakfast from the kitchens of the luxury Park Hyatt Vienna hotel? Et voilà. A quick click in the app, select the payment method you want, and treat yourself. It only costs half the normal price and stops good food from going to waste.



Too Good To Go

We are talking about an app from Denmark that hit Vienna last summer. Restaurants, bakeries and hotels can use it to offer surplus food that would be otherwise thrown away – at knock-down prices. Simply select the vendor you want before paying by credit card or PayPal. Next, you head on down to the location at the specified time and pick out exactly what you want once you are there. Now firmly established, the concept is responsible for rescuing 1,440 meals a day across Austria. Georg Strasser, Country Manager at Too Good To Go Austria, is delighted with the uptake: “We are incredibly proud of how well the concept has been received in Austria. Our thanks go out to the many users and participating enterprises that made this milestone possible in the first place, saving food from being thrown out every single day. After all, food is there to be eaten!”

Cooking pan instead of trash can

Since 2016, a start-up called Unverschwendet has been using surplus fruit and veg from growers to make sustainable deli products, in a stand against food wastage in Austria. Their strategy is to take produce that is deemed too ugly for the supermarkets, or would otherwise get binned after events, to create new products such as jams, preserves, chutneys and spreads. The company uses conservation methods that have stood the test of time, such as boiling or pickling. Created in a small deli on Vienna’s Schwendermarkt, its products are sold in reusable jars.

so far, so good

Even though there are already various initiatives in place designed to prevent perfectly good food from being thrown out, masses of edible produce still gets wasted. According to the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, the national total comes to around 157,000 tonnes, worth a total of over EUR 1 billion. It’s not just charities that have picked up on the problem; major companies are also starting to assume greater responsibility for the issue. For years now, REWE Group Austria has had a comprehensive package of measures in place to tackle the problem.

“A responsible approach to foodstuffs and reducing food waste to the fullest extent possible – that’s established practice at our group,” explained REWE International AG CEO Marcel Haraszti. “And we don’t stop at implementing measures at our retail companies Billa, Merkur, Penny, Bipa and Adeg; we are also doing everything in our power to get consumers on board when it comes to this topic, which affects all of society. We will only be able to bring about real change if everyone – consumers, retailers and the gastro industry– all pull together in the same direction.”

Leading by example

One effective approach is to increase awareness among consumers and introduce incentives so that food waste can be addressed at the point it actually happens. Where yesterday’s bread roll, that browning banana or that slightly limp-looking iceberg lettuce finds its way into the bin. And this applies to retailers and private households in equal measure. There are various misconceptions that people have at home, leading them to mistake the best-before date for the use-by date and the expiry date. A little more mindfulness and appreciation of the true value of our food is the first step. Lots of information and tips and tricks on how to avoid food waste can be found on the individual websites of the retailers that make up REWE Group Austria.

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