This App Lets You Order Excess Food From Restaurants At Half The Price

To help put an end to food waste, restaurants have a new, convenient way to offer excess food at a fraction of the price to their customers.


May 15 2019, Updated 5:11 p.m. ET

Most people enjoy going out to eat, whether it is at a restaurant or a cafe. Sadly, these places often generate a significant amount of food waste; either because they had less customers than they expected, someone ordered too much of certain perishable ingredients, or because of mistakes in the kitchen. At closing time, a number of restaurants will offer this excess food to customers at a discount, just to get it out the door, or even donate it to those in need. 

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Of course, there’s never a guarantee that this excess food will be available. And not all eateries have this option; sometimes food goes straight into the dumpster. To make this process a lot easier, and significantly curb food waste, a new dining app called Karma offers meals at a fraction of the price from participating restaurants. And with an app, you don't need to go from restaurant to restaurant to scope out possible deals, making the experience easier on your time and your wallet. And, of course, the planet.

Karma launched in London last Thursday on iOS and Android devices. The process is very simple and free for customers to use. All they have to do is open up the app and scroll through the various restaurants and meals they have to offer. An order is placed through the app, the customer arrives at the restaurant within a designated window of time, and the meal is taken.

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Orders are automatically listed as takeout to put less strain on restaurant capacity, especially if they’re about to close. Some establishments will offer people to dine in if preferred. All pickups must be identified through the account on the app, so if the purchaser can’t make it themselves, a different person must have their phone or login credentials for the app.

Cafes and grocery stores are also listed in the app and transactions are done in the same way. This is especially ideal for baked goods that won’t last long, creating an easy way to curb food waste while also giving customers a discount. Since these purchases are similar to clearance sales, there are no refunds unless the quality of food received is unsatisfactory.

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Karma is a Swedish startup that was founded by four people back in 2015. A year later, the app was first launched in their homeland and acquired over 100,000 users within months. It’s led to the expansion of the service in other markets. Hjalmar Ståhlberg Nordegren, one of the co-founders, told Business Insider last summer that they would do “market research” to determine “which countries are the best fit.”

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The company is certainly interested in bringing it to the United States. Roughly half of American food that’s produced is thrown away. Elsa Bernadotte, another co-founder, told CNet that they “would be stupid” not to look into the US since their “end goal is to reduce food waste on a global scale.”

A bistro and some fast food chains are among the first services that are using Karma in London. There’s been immediate praise from these establishments with its ease of use. Bernadotte noted that while it’s initially tough to get some places to sign onto the idea, once they’re in, they never want to get out of it.

For those that either attempt to get some discounts at local restaurants or just learned the new tip, Karma provides a much easier way to accomplish this. It’s a better way to learn who sells off their excess products and it can significantly save time instead of wasting a trip just to find out that no extra meals are available.

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