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Loblaw currently offers the Flashfood program at 720 company-operated and franchised grocery stores.

Loblaw makes strides in food waste reduction with Flashfood

Program enables shoppers to buy near-expiring items at discount

Canada’s largest food and drug retailer, Loblaw Cos., has made big advances in reducing food waste and driving customer savings since adopting the Flashfood program over three years ago.

Toronto-based Flashfood said Tuesday that Loblaw has diverted 40 million pounds of food from landfills and helped its shoppers save more than $110 million on groceries through the use of its digital marketplace across 720 Loblaw Cos. stores and franchises.

The free Flashfood app gives customers access to exclusive deals (of up to 50%) on products — including meat, produce, seafood, dairy, deli, bakery and snacks — that are nearing their best-by date. In turn, the significantly reduced prices drive purchases of food that otherwise would go to the retailer’s waste stream. Overall, during the past two years, more than 1.6 million Canadians have used Flashfood.

“As a purpose-led organization, Loblaw is firmly committed to helping Canadians live life well. By partnering with Flashfood, we are reducing our impact on the environment while also helping our customers save money,” Robert Sawyer, chief operating officer at Loblaw Cos., said in a statement. “This is an incredible milestone, made possible thanks to industry leaders like Flashfood, and we look forward to the ongoing impact of our partnership.”

Flashfood’s app enables grocery customers to browse deals at participating stores on foods that are approaching expiration, including center-store and snack items as well as perishables. Purchases are made directly through the app, and customers pick up their order on the same day from the designated “Flashfood zone” area inside the store. Items purchased are stored in a refrigerator or on a storage rack inside the store until they’re retrieved by customers.

Currently, Flashfood is available through such Loblaw Cos. retail banners as No Frills, Maxi, Real Canadian Superstore, Atlantic Superstore, Loblaws, Real Canadian Wholesale Club, Zehrs, Independent, Provigo and Dominion. Loblaw first launched Flashfood at selected stores in 2019 and then began rolling it out to more locations later that year.

“Loblaw was our first partner and continues to be our biggest partner,” Flashfood Founder and CEO Josh Domingues stated. “The 40 million pounds of food saved milestone underscores the ability of our mobile marketplace to deliver on our mission to reduce food waste and connect families with more affordable groceries. Loblaw is an industry leader in food waste reduction, and this milestone is just the beginning of the impact we'll continue to make for Canadian shoppers and families.”

Besides food waste, Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw also has moved to cut down on plastic waste.

As of Nov. 1, the grocer no longer offered single-use plastic shopping bags at stores in Saskatchewan (No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Extra Foods, Your Independent Grocer and Wholesale Club), Manitoba (No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Extra Foods and Wholesale Club) and Northwest Territories (Glen’s Independent Grocer and Rochdi’s Independent Grocer)

Loblaw had announced in June that it plans to remove all single-use plastic bags from its corporate and franchised stores, pharmacies and PC Express online service nationwide by the end of the 2023 first quarter. The company launched its plastic shopping bag transition effort in 2007, when it implemented a pay-for-bag program to help reduce plastic waste. The fee led to a 70% decline in the use of plastic bags in its stores, and shoppers turned to reusable bags and plastic bins as sustainable alternatives.

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