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Hy-Vee tests grocery shopping app to reduce food waste

Flashfood serves up discounts on near-expiring products

Hy-Vee Inc. has begun piloting a mobile shopping app that helps grocery retailers cut back on food waste.

Called Flashfood, and developed by a Toronto company of the same name, the app enables consumers to browse and buy food items nearing their “best before” date at “significantly reduced” prices, Hy-Vee said Friday.

The West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer said the Flashfood App pilot is now under way in Wisconsin at both of its Madison locations and its store in Fitchburg. 

“At Hy-Vee, we know it’s important that we do our part as grocers to reduce food waste. In 2018 alone, our food waste diversion programs at all our Hy-Vee stores have kept more than 25 million pounds of food waste out of landfills,” Jessica Ringena, vice president of innovation and business development the supermarket chain, said in a statement. “This partnership with Flashfood is just one more way we can further increase our sustainability efforts.”

To use Flashfood, customers download the free app (available in iOS and Android versions) and then start shopping deals on items such as meat, dairy, bread and snacks. Purchases are then made directly from their smartphone and picked up at any time from the Flashfood Zone shelves or refrigerators in the store.

The program gives consumers a way to lower their grocery bill and help the environment by reducing unnecessary food waste, according to Flashfood.

“We’re thrilled Hy-Vee has chosen to participate in reducing their food waste through the Flashfood platform,” said Josh Domingues, founder and CEO of Flashfood, which launched in 2016. “They have a brand synonymous with innovation, and we are excited to offer their products from their Madison and Fitchburg locations to our community.”

Hy-Vee marks the first U.S. supermarket chain to use Flashfood. Besides the three Hy-Vee stores, the app is currently available at three Loblaw Cos. grocery stores in Ontario: two Real Canadian Superstores (in London and Oakville) and one No Frills store (in London).

Thus far, Flashfood has partnered with five grocery retailers — including pilots with Target Corp. (at two stores in St. Cloud and one in Monticello, Minn.) and with Canadian chains Farm Boy and Longo’s — to divert more than 100,000 units of food. The company said it expects to make its app available through more U.S. stores over the next year.

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