U.S. grocery chain Meijer has teamed up with the folks at Flashfood to cut down on food waste in its Detroit-area stores.
Using Canada-based Flashfood’s app, grocery stores can sell surplus food nearing its expiration date at discounted prices, including not just produce but also meat, seafood, dairy, and bakery items. Customers can download the Flashfood app, choose a store, then select and pay for items from their phone, much as they would with any other online grocery platform. Items are available for pickup at the store. As of yet, Flashfood has no accompanying delivery service.
For the Meijer deal, Flashfood will sell items at up 50 percent off the original price. The two companies are testing the program in Metro Detroit, where Flashfood currently works with four Meijer stores.
The model of selling near-expired food items at discounted prices to consumers comes with a number of benefits. Stores waste less inventory and therefore waste less money, and consumers can save some cash by choosing the discounted food items. There’s also the fact that 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste, a truth uglier than a misshapen tomato. Companies like Flashfood and Meijer, who are working to redistribute unused inventory, are in part targeting that issue with their solutions.
Flashfood’s approach to food waste is not unlike that of Karma, a Swedish company that helps retailers sell excess food via a mobile app and which recently teamed up with Electrolux to store that unsold food in smart refrigerators at retailers.
However, Karma is only available in Europe — as are the majority of other food-surplus startups. In the U.S., the concept remains a fairly niche one, and the market is, as my colleague Catherine Lamb recently wrote, “far less saturated” in the States than in Europe.
Meanwhile, Flashfood itself has more a presence in Canada, where it is based, with just the Detroit locations and a few Hy-Vee stores in Wisconsin. The hope is that the deal with Meijer, a chain that operates throughout the U.S. Midwest, can familiarize more of the population with new ways to curb food waste. Helping them save money in the process never hurts.