Myro Company is a South Korean social entrepreneurial start-up incorporated in 2018. By offering huge discounts on near-expired products or leftover food items via its ‘Last Order’ app, this start-up strives to reduce food waste resulting from excess supply in restaurants and convenience stores at the end of the day. The founder noted that the app was inspired by a similar UK-based initiative ‘Too Good to Go’(Last Order 2018).
Food waste is a serious issue in South Korea, with approximately 1,046 tonnes of food being discarded by restaurants every day, according to 2016 data(Kim 2018). This high volume may be attributed to a variety of reasons. First, it is often difficult for restaurants to predict the exact number of customers on a given day. A sudden cancellation of table bookings or even a sudden change of weather may result in excess supply of ingredients at the end of the day, and the commitment to use only fresh ingredients means that certain ingredients must be discarded unused after a period of time. Second, restaurants operating buffet-style must maintain extra portions for customers to scavenge at will until the last business hour. Third, it is not uncommon for restaurants to order the wrong amount of ingredients by mistake. Fourth, some restaurants may have already entered into long-term supplier agreements binding them to minimum order requirements despite sharp and unexpected business downturns due to events such asCOVID-19. These factors come together to form the background behind South Korea’s increasingly severe food waste problem.
Myro Company’s ‘Last Order’ app provides a solution beneficial to consumers, business owners as well as the environment. Restaurant owners may post details of their remaining food items towards the end of the business day –around6-7pm–onto the app, offering a 30-70% discount from the original price. Consumers can then use the map function to browse the types of discounts offered by nearby stores. They then pay through the app and select a pick-up time (Myro Company2020). This allows businesses to make last-minute profit, consumers to enjoy a hefty discount for high quality meals, and the environment to thrive from reduced food waste.
Since 2018, Myro has established partnerships with over 16,000 restaurants (Seo 2020). In February 2020, 7-Eleven became the first convenience store chain to collaborate with Myro in offering discounts for aisle products with 3 hours left to expire (Meng 2020). In late June 2020, this was followed by rival convenience store chain CU (Oh 2020). Both chains have seen a clear increase in profits following the collaboration (Lee 2020). 7-Eleven reported that the Last Order app saved KRW 350 million worth of food from going to waste in less than two months(Cho 2020).According to reviews on the Google Play Store, users noted that they appreciated how the app was easy to use and offered steep discount deals but commented that they hoped to see deals offered at an even wider range of convenience stores and restaurants(Last Order 2020).Last Order has further thrived under COVID-19 social distancing regulations, with more consumers preferring takeout food to reduce physical contact. In numbers, Myro Company announced that the number of orders through the app jumped six-fold between January and September 2020(Lee 2020).
Cho, Y. (2020). Seven Eleven ‘Last Order’ bangabs hal-in ingi [세븐일레븐 ‘라스트오더’ 반값할인 인기] [Online]. Financial News. Available at: https://www.fnnews.com/news/202003251820096241 (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Kim, M. (2018). Woori nara eumshikmul sseuraegi jeongchaek jindan mit banghyang [우리나라 음식물쓰레기 정책진단 및 방향] [Online]. Available at: https://gfc.gg.go.kr/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2019/05/우리나라-음식물쓰레기정책진단-및-방향.pdf (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Last Order (2018). Gongji Last Order-reul deo algo shipeushimyun, igeuleul ggok irk-eubua-jusaeyo (saeub annae, member sogae, mission, geurigo yeon-gyeol.) [공지 라스트오더 (LAST ORDER)를 더 알고 싶으시면, 이 글을 꼭 읽어봐주세요. (사업 안내, 멤버 소개, 미션, 그리고 연결.)] [Online]. Available at: https://m.blog.naver.com/last__order/221223120571 (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Last Order (2020). [Online] Google Play Store. Available at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.myro.lastorder&showAllReviews= true (Accessed: 13 November 2020).
Lee, J. (2020). ‘Last Order’ bidaemyun baram-tago weol jumun 6bae ‘hueol hueol’ [‘라스트오더’ 비대면 바람타고 월 주문 6 배 ‘훨훨’] [Online]. ET News. Available at: https://www.etnews.com/20200915000192 (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Meng, J. (2020). “Yootonggihan imbak sangpum 30% harin”…Seven Eleven, Last Order service [“유통기한 임박상품 30% 할인”…세븐일레븐, 라스트오더 서비스] [Online]. Seoul Economic Daily. Available at: https://www.sedaily.com/NewsView/1YXUJK2Q15 (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Myro Company (2020) [Online]. Available at: https://www.myrocompany.com/index.html (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Oh, J. (2020). Pyungi-jeomdo soksok ‘yootonggihan dduri’…’ddeng-cheori’ mobile jangbogi [편의점도 속속 ‘유통기한 떨이’…’땡처리’ 모바일 장보기] [Online]. Korea UID: 3035361570 3 Economy Daily. Available at: https://www.hankyung.com/life/article/202006224138g (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)
Seo, M. (2020). “Nangbi eob-neun eumshik-eul uihae guknae chway-cho ‘magam harin’ platform-eul mandeulda” Oh Kyungseok ‘Last Order’ daepyo [“낭비 없는 음식을 위해 국내 최초 ‘마감 할인’ 플랫폼을 만들다” 오경석 ‘라스트오더’ 대표] [Online]. Seoul Economic Daily. Available at: https://www.sedaily.com/NewsView/1Z59FYL43K (Accessed: 12 November 2020). (only available in Korean)