Loblaw Cos. is expanding deployment of Flashfood, a mobile app that helps reduce store-generated food waste by enabling customers to buy near-expiring products at discounted prices.
Already under way at 139 Maxi and Provigo stores in Quebec, the Flashfood program launched this week at all Real Canadian Superstore locations in Ontario, which Loblaw said is part of a rollout that will make the app available to customers at its various store banners nationwide.
Plans call for the Brampton, Ontario-based food and drug retailer to offer Flashfood at more than 250 stores by the end of the summer, including at Real Canadian Superstores in Western Canada, Loblaws and Zehrs stores in Ontario and all Atlantic Superstore locations.
"As a food retailer, we are in the business of providing food, not wasting it," Gord Chem, senior vice president of operations for Real Canadian Superstore, said in a statement. "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."
With Flashfood, customers can browse and buy foods nearing their “best before” date at up to 50% off regular prices, according to Loblaw. Items available for purchase include meat, produce, bakery, dairy and nonperishable foods. Customers select their store, shop near-expiring items and pay for them directly through the app. Upon arrival at the store, they 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, senior vice president of store operations for the Loblaws, Zehrs and Atlantic Superstore banners. "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."
In 2018, Loblaw announced a goal to halve store-generated food waste in corporate retail operations by 2025. The company said it also has improved procurement and operating procedures and shortened its supply chain to keep food fresher for a longer time period. Loblaw stores last year also donated more than 8.5 million pounds of food to food banks and recovery agencies to help feed hungry Canadians and cut down on food waste.
"As a Canadian company, we're incredibly proud to partner with Loblaw,” said Josh Domingues, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Flashfood. “Food waste is a massive environmental issue, and together we believe we can have a tremendous impact."
Overall, Loblaw’s retail network encompasses 2,424 stores, including 550 corporate-owned supermarkets under a range of retail banners plus 1,339 Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix drug stores and 535 franchised grocery stores.
In Canada, Flashfood also has partnered with grocery chains Longo’s and Sobeys Inc.’s Farm Boy banner. Flashfood said it also aims to make its app available at more U.S. stores over the next year. Pilots are currently under way at Hy-Vee and Target stores.