The restaurants and cafés selling leftovers on the cheap to cut food waste
PUBLISHED: 08:14 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:23 12 November 2019
A desire to cut back on food waste has seen eco-conscious restaurants and cafés rely on technology to sell leftover goods for a fraction of the price.
One of a handful of similar schemes, the Too Good To Go app was launched in 2016, offering restaurants a way of selling food left at the end of the day instead of throwing it away.
As of Tuesday, there were 18 restaurants and cafés listed across Norfolk, though 13 of those were Morrisons branches.
The Apiary Cake and Coffee House, in Harleston, was an early adopter, having signed up roughly two years ago.
It sees customers pay a certain amount - usually around £2 to £5 - for what the app calls a 'magic bag', filled with goods left over at the end of the day. Generally, customers order in advance, and have a slot in which to collect.
Hayley Bell at the café said: "I am surprised there aren't more using it, we are the only ones in town.
"People can get quite a lot for their money, pastries, scones and so on. We do it every day except Sundays, and if we get to the stage where there's nothing left, we cancel that order and people get their money back.
"We see lots of different people. It doesn't matter where it goes as long as it's not thrown in the bin."
In comments on the café's Facebook page, one person said they paid £5 and received pastries, scones and doughnuts.
They said: "You are allowing lower income families like ours to enjoy delicious foods for the most affordable price ever."
Meanwhile, That Café in Norwich, on St Augustines Street, said they had been using the app for about three months.
Co-owner Chris Featherby said: "We make a lot of effort around biodegradeable and compostable packaging so it all fits in with that. We don't want to throw away good food."
With the café shutting on Mondays, he said they mainly use the app for Sunday evenings and that customers often enjoyed goods including sausage rolls and cakes.
It comes amid a push to cut down on wider waste nationally - community fridges can be found in most parts of Norfolk, several low or zero waste shops have sprung up in recent months, plenty of businesses have committed to cutting out single-use plastic and apps now encourage neighbours to share leftover food.
Using a location in central Norwich on app Olio, items posted within a five-kilometre radius in Norwich included an "almost full" box of English breakfast tea, cheese and onion crisps, cakes and sandwiches at the Boundary pub in Mile Cross and cereal.
Meanwhile, Norfolk and Suffolk Recycles - partnerships of the counties' councils - have pledged to cut food waste by 20pc across Norfolk and Suffolk by 2025.
In September, the Sitting Room, in Sheringham, passed a milestone of 100 meals being given out through Too Good To Go.
The café said it was a good way of getting rid of unsold food, and that it was most often used by young mums and dads.
But just down the road, Gary Hughes, of Sheringham-based Aunty Sam's Cakes, said while it was a good business idea both ethically and financially, they'd had little uptake.
"We haven't had an enormous take up on it at all," he said. "We tried it, the first few days we had a little bit of interest, but then we were throwing stuff away anyway.
"I'm just not sure there's the audience there, which is a shame because it is a good idea."
The only chain restaurant in Norfolk using Too Good To Go is Yo Sushi, which is based on Chapel Field East in Norwich.
A spokesperson for the restaurant said they started working with the app at Norwich in October 2017, and so far had saved more than 1,800 meals in two years, including 96 in September this year.
How does it work?
While we missed the boat when it came to ordering a Yo Sushi box - they often sell out well in advance - we went along to see what happens.
The boxes range in price from £5 to £9 and leftovers are generally divided into four servings each night.
Those who have bought a box head along from 9.30pm onwards, and what they'll receive is often "luck of the draw", assistant general manager Sally Darwood said.
Each customer receives two boxes.
And while they might include a katsu curry, for example, it's more likely diners can expect a mix of sushi.
It's a savoury spread - desserts aren't given away as they last longer.
People are then invited - at all restaurants using the app - to rate the service, the quality of the food and the amount they received.
Ms Darwood said people were "thrilled by it", and that it was "cracking, as the food would just go in the bin otherwise".