DamoGO has come up with a smart way of reducing food waste in Korea

A social impact startup in Korea is using creativity and technology to reduce food waste in Korea while providing consumers with discounted prices on delicious food. DamoGO is an app that lets consumers in Seoul buy food that was unsold in restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and food stores for a reduced price at the end of the day. This is perfect for a city like Seoul which has one of the fastest internet speeds, smartphone penetration rates, and high city density. Therefore getting food delivered to your door is very easy in Korea. In addition, Seoul is so well connected that it takes someone less than 30 minutes to get around Seoul via taxi, bus, or subway.

This social impact startup in Korea was launched in the middle of 2019 and has already partnered with 65 businesses. By connecting customers to restaurants and stores that have unsold/surplus food, DamoGO is not just helping businesses and customers in Seoul but also helping reduce food waste in Korea. Therefore they are able to not only provide a cheaper alternative for customers but also help fight global warming. Overall, food waste is handled well in Korea compared to other countries. For example, 95% of the food waste is recycled into animal feed, compost, or fuel. This movement started in 2005 when the Korean government banned sending food to landfills. However, South Korea still ranks very high in terms of food waste production.

Reducing Food Waste in Korea

DamoGO was started by two entrepreneurs in Korea who deeply care about food waste, the environment, and other social issues.

Approximately 85% of the food that isn’t used in a typical restaurant is thrown out. Each South Korean citizen accounts for 130 kilograms of food waste each year. This is more than the average North American and European. Much of it comes from restaurants, bakeries, and other food retailers. There is a cost for disposing of food and these costs are a major burden for many restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and food retailers.

The Korean government has instituted incentive programs to combat food waste. Currently, businesses and individuals in Korea to pay for their food waste. DamoGO hopes their service will help lessen the load for businesses in Korea.

DamoGO CEO Lin“We want to create a national movement for citizens to think about wasted food differently and to do their part in reducing waste. DamoGO gives them a starting point to do this. We are careful not to call the food available on the app as “leftover food”. The food on the app is perfectly good, untouched food that would have gone to waste just because it wasn’t sold by the end of the day. We are NOT a discount app – we are a social business dedicated to reducing wasted food.“ Lin Hwang, CEO & Co-Founder at DamoGO

Helping Homeless Shelters Across Seoul

DamoGO is also making a social impact by helping businesses get their surplus food to charities. They have already prevented more than 10,000 food items from going to waste in the last 2 months. They have partnered with homeless shelters and soup kitchens across Seoul. Seoul has many high-quality catered events. At the end of these events, the untouched food gets thrown away. Therefore, a team of volunteers from DamoGO will go to these events and package the foods themselves and encourage guests to take the food home or take it to local shelters or soup kitchens. Furthermore, they are looking for more partnerships as they look to expand Damogo across Korea.

How does DamoGO work?

Domago AppBusinesses

Restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and food stores can list on DamoGO for free. Therefore they will be able to get additional revenue, marketing exposure, and reduce their food waste. The average restaurant could potentially save up to $800 a month in food waste fees. Each business will have a section on the DamoGO app. There they can sell their unsold food items at the end of the day. DamoGO will take a small percentage of each transaction. This also results in free marketing on the DamoGo app. Everyday DamoGO users discover new items on the app as more and more restaurants, cafes, and etc come onto the platform.

Furthermore, businesses in Korea get an added boost in their brand image by showing their commitment to sustainability and reducing food waste. DamoGO is not a discount app but a social business to reduce food waste. Therefore businesses can become a part of the corporate social responsibility movement through their partnership with DamoGO.

Consumers

First, consumers must download the DamoGO app. The app is available for download on both Google Play and the Apple Store. Then they will be able to see all the postings in real-time and by location from restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and grocery stores in Seoul. The app provides a wide selection of unsold food and drinks sold at a discounted price (50% or greater). All of the food on the app are made that same day. Therefore, it is possible that once you purchase the item at the end of the day, a few minutes earlier was being sold at full price.

Consumers can then purchase the item directly on the app. Then they will need to pick up the item before the store closes. They offer a wide selection of restaurants with different cuisines – from traditional Korean food to Thai Fusion kitchen. Therefore consumers will be able to eat meals from some of the finest dining restaurants in Seoul for half the price.

Consumers will be able to follow their favorite restaurants, cafes, and bakeries through the app. In addition, users can get immediate notifications when an item is uploaded. Payment is a seamless one-step payment system that is easy to use, even for foreigners in Korea.

Ensuring the Quality of the Food

When DamoGO works with their partner restaurants, cafes, bakeries, etc, to make sure the quality of the food meets DamoGO’s standard. Partners need to sign an agreement that forbids them from selling old food (more than a day). The team at DamoGO will constantly check their partner’s reviews from customers.

The potential to expand outside of Seoul

Food Waste in Korea DamoGOThe target market for DamoGO is consumers in Seoul that are looking for a great bargain. Many Koreans love to save money. Therefore with DamoGO they can not only save money but also do something positive for the environment. Seoul has over 80,000 restaurants and has the highest smartphone ownership in the world. Therefore as competition for customers rises, restaurants will need to get creative to stay ahead of the competition.

DamoGO’s mission is to create awareness about food waste issues and to significantly reduce the amount of wasted food. Food waste is not just a problem in restaurants and bakeries but also at the farm level and distribution level. DamoGO has great potential to scale outside of Seoul. There are many regions in Korea that have small shops and restaurants that want to engage with their local market. They will look to aggressively grow in Korea.  As well as, look to enter the Southeast Asian market starting with Indonesia. They have already reached out to many franchise owners and government officials in Indonesia.