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Loblaw expands Flashfood app program to reduce store waste

Loblaw Companies (L-T) says it is expanding its relationship with innovative food sales applicati...

IMAGE: Flashfood logo.Loblaw Companies (L-T) says it is expanding its relationship with innovative food sales application Flashfood in an effort that should further reduce store-generated food waste, while saving customers money on their grocery bills.

The Flashfood app allows customers to become aware of, and purchase, food items which are nearing their expiration dates. Customers save up to 50 per cent on the regular price of the products, and the stores will be able to reduce the amount of expired food which would normally go into the waste stream.

“As a food retailer, we are in the business of providing food, not wasting it,” said Gord Chem, the senior vice president of Real Canadian Superstore Operations for Loblaw, in a release. “Our goal is to provide our customers with easy access to quality fresh food and grocery items at low prices.

“The Flashfood program allows us to provide our customers with a convenient and environmentally sustainable way to purchase food.”

Currently available at 139 Maxi and Provigo stores in Quebec, Loblaw is rolling out the program to more stores in more provinces.

More stores in Ontario, Western, Atlantic Canada

As of this week (June 12), the program is available at all Real Canadian Superstore locations in Ontario. By the end of the summer, Loblaw will introduce the app to customers at more than 250 stores, including Real Canadian Superstore locations in Western Canada, Loblaws and Zehrs stores in Ontario, and all Atlantic Superstore locations.

The program will provide consumers with access to a variety of foods including meat, produce, bakery items, dairy products and non-perishable food items.

To see what’s available, consumers go to the app which they download (it is free) onto a cellphone or other smart device. They then select a store, choose the items they wish to purchase and pay for them directly on the app.

They then go to the store to pick up their items in the designated Flashfood zone and confirm their order with customer service.

“Reducing food waste is not only important to us as a retailer, but to our customers as well,” said Sharla Paraskevopoulos, the senior vice president of store operations for Loblaws, Zehrs and Atlantic Superstore, in the release. “We know that we need to continue finding new ways to innovate. The Flashfood app is just one example of how we are pushing ourselves to further reduce the environmental impact of our store operations.”

Loblaw made a commitment in 2018 to reduce its store-generated food waste by 50 per cent in corporate retail operations by 2025. In addition to partnering with Flashfood to reduce food waste, the company has improved procurement and operating procedures and shortened its supply chain to keep food fresher, longer.

During 2018, Loblaw stores also donated more than 8.5 million pounds of food to food banks and food recovery agencies, both helping disadvantaged Canadians and reducing the amount of wasted food.

The Flashfood app

Flashfood is one of at least a dozen apps entering the food space in an attempt to cut down waste. On its website, Flashfood’s founders say they got the idea for the app after reading a National Geographic article in 2016, which read:

“If International food waste were a country, it would be the third leading cause to GHG emissions behind the US & China”.

Flashfood says about one third of the world’s food, representing about 1.3 billion tons, ends up in dumps or landfills annually.

“As a Canadian company, we’re incredibly proud to partner with Loblaw. Food waste is a massive environmental issue and together we believe we can have a tremendous impact,” said Josh Domingues, the founder and CEO of Flashfood, in the release.

In an earlier announcement in February, Flashfood said it “has sold more than 75 per cent of the products made available through its platform while saving consumers an average of 50 per cent on their grocery items purchased through the app.”

The company is also piloting the app with three Hy-Vee food stores in Wisconsin, and said it is working with Target stores to roll out the program in the U.S.

About Loblaw Companies Limited

Loblaw Companies Limited is the nation’s largest retailer, providing Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services, and wireless mobile products and services.

Loblaw’s purpose – it’s slogan is Live Life Well – promotes the needs and well-being of Canadians, who make one billion transactions annually in the company’s stores. With more than 2,400 corporate, franchised and associate-owned locations, Loblaw, its franchisees, and associate-owners employ almost 200,000 full- and part-time employees, making it one of Canada’s largest private-sector employers.

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