Can apps help reduce food waste?
Giant Food has become the latest grocer to partner with Flashfood, an app that lets customers save money and reduce food waste by purchasing items near their “best by” or “sell by” dates.
Customers browse deals on the app for up to half off on fresh items like meat, produce boxes, dairy and bakery items, as well as on center store foods and snacks, nearing their best-by dates. Shoppers can pick up items purchased through the app from “Flashzone” sections inside participating Giant stores.
Toronto-based Flashfood, which has been slowly rolling out since 2017, works with about 1,000 stores in North America, including Meijer, Tops Friendly Markets and SpartanNash. Flashfood receives a cut on Flashzone sales while grocers get additional revenue from items otherwise discarded, thereby supporting their sustainability goals.
The app addresses food waste but also the climate change risk from the methane released as food breaks down in landfills. Repurposing about-to-be-tossed foods can bring more affordable fresh food options to shoppers as “best by” and “sell by” dates are often underestimated by grocers by 24 to 72 hours, according to Flashfood.
A number of other food waste apps have gained traction in recent years, with many motivated by climate change concerns. The apps include:
- Too Good To Go, founded in Copenhagen in 2016 and recently reaching major U.S. cities, enables consumers to purchase discounted pastries and other items left at the end of the day from grocers to bakeries, restaurants and farmers markets. App users generally pay $4.99 for a “surprise bag” of fresh, prepared and perishable foods that would have otherwise been discarded. The app takes a $1.29 commission.
- Kitche: The London-based app allows users to scan receipts from food items and then categorize their refrigerator and pantry inventories, track expiry dates and discover recipes using ingredients found at home.
- Olio, which recently announced a $43 million funding round, lets people post pictures of unwanted food to give away for free to neighbors with a goal of battling in-home waste. Revenues streams so far are gained by handling the disposal of food near expiration dates for Tesco and other grocers.
- Giant Food Partners with Flashfood on Pilot Program to Save Customers Money on Groceries and Reduce Food Waste – Flashfood
- Giant Food tests Flashfood food waste reduction app – Supermarket News
- 12 Apps Preventing Household Food Waste and Protecting the Planet – Foodtank
- How Food Samaritans Help Supermarkets Reduce Waste – Bloomberg
- This app fighting food waste around the world is gaining ground in the U.S. – Fortune
- Giant Food tests selling about-to-expire food at 50% off – WTOP
- Sustainable Food Apps Fighting Global Food Waste – Intelligent Living
- Toss Out or Use Soon? What Food Expiration Date Labels Really Mean – Healthline
- The entrepreneur stopping food waste – BBC
- This Eco-Friendly App Reduces Food Waste by Offering Discounted Meals From Local Restaurants – Real Simple
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the potential of Flashfood, Too Good To Go and other apps designed to reduce food waste? Does such crowdsourcing and food expiration-tracking technology offer a fresh way for grocers to tackle food waste?