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NoFoodWasted

Do you wish you could get more deals on fresh meat and produce? Are you concerned about food waste and all the unsold groceries that get tossed in the dumpster?

Well, look no further than your smartphone – as soon as a few startups make their way to your area.

A Canadian app called Flashfood is the newest of its kind, with plans to launch next month. Its founders have partnered with an as-yet unnamed major grocery chain, as well as more than a dozen Toronto-area restaurants. The goal is to “allow users to purchase high-quality food at massively discounted prices before the food is discarded.”

When a grocery store or restaurant has extra food that’s fast approaching its sell-by date, instead of dumping it or arranging for it to be donated, they’ll make one more effort to sell it – at half-price or better – by advertising it on Flashfood. Users will be able to see the offer, purchase it right from their phone, and pick it up right away.

The founders promise that no expired or spoiled food will be sold – it’s just a higher-tech equivalent of placing a last-chance discount sticker on an item and trying to sell it before tossing it. Flashfood users will be able to browse multiple stores at once, so they’ll know what the deals are without having to visit individual locations hoping to find some cut-price products.

Flashfood is similar to an app that’s already launched in the Netherlands. “No Food Wasted” works with Dutch grocers, to show available discounts on food that’s about to expire. Users can search by item, if they’re looking for discounted bread or bananas that are nearing the end of their shelf life, or they can search through a specific store’s inventory to see what food discounts the store is offering at that moment.

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Last year, No Food Wasted estimated that it helped to cut supermarket food waste by 18%. And it hopes to improve upon that figure, as it looks to expand across the country and throughout Europe.

And lest you think it’s only an international thing, there’s also an American app with the same idea. PareUp launched in New York City a couple of years ago, and works with restaurants and grocery stores in the city to provide discounts on items approaching their sell-by dates. “Our service provides businesses with a more profitable alternative to throwing food away that also benefits consumers and the environment,” the app makers explain. They operate only in New York for now, but hope to expand to as many as a dozen other cities in the near future.

Some major grocery retailers in the U.S. are trying to help solve food waste on their own. Target, for instance, is testing a program in which produce will be priced according to its freshness (strawberries marked as having “arrived today” cost $2.99, while those that arrived a week ago cost $2.49). Kroger, meanwhile, turns tons of unsellable food into renewable energy to help power one of its distribution centers.

In all, No Food Wasted estimates that about $440 million worth of food is thrown away in the Netherlands each year. Flashfood says the figure is $31 billion in Canada. And in the U.S., the USDA estimates that about $161 billion worth of food goes unsold.

That’s a lot of waste – and a lot of potential savings.

For now, these three apps aiming to help solve the problem are far from mainstream. But give it time, their creators hope. If they can convince stores to sell you food instead of tossing it, allowing you to save some money, and save the world from a whole lot of unnecessary waste – then everyone wins.

Image source: No Food Wasted

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