As more shoppers continue feeling the pinch of higher grocery prices, many of us are still looking for any way possible to save money. It turns out the answer may be in your trash can.

Or, more precisely, the answer is making sure your groceries don’t end up in your trash can – or in anyone else’s.

The savings app Flashfood has released its second annual Impact Report, entitled “The Future of Food is Waste.” It found that nearly 80% of shoppers have changed their behavior as a result of rising grocery prices. And it emphasized that the best way to save on food is not to throw it away.

Flashfood, introduced in 2016, works with more than a thousand stores in the U.S. to make food that’s nearing its expiration date available to shoppers at discounted prices. App users can browse available deals, pay for them directly within the app, and pick up their items at a nearby store – saving money, and saving the store from having to toss the food into the trash.

And Flashfood says its service is especially valuable now that so many shoppers are looking for deals.

According to a survey conducted for the report, more than half of all grocery shoppers say they’re paying more attention to coupons or sales, while nearly half are buying more store brands. A third are shopping at discount grocery stores or cutting their spending in other areas. And more than a quarter are buying more packaged or frozen foods to save money instead of buying fresh meat and produce.

That’s even as tens of millions of tons of fresh food is ending up in the trash each year, instead of on the tables of people who say they simply can’t afford it.


“Eating healthily costs an additional $1.50 a day,” Flashfood’s report notes. And prices for produce in particular have risen faster than other foods. So when push comes to shove, “people with limited means sacrifice healthy food choices” in favor of what’s affordable.

So Flashfood’s report details its efforts this past year in making healthy food more affordable. In 2023, it says shoppers saved more than $13 million on perfectly safe, edible, discounted produce that would otherwise have gone to waste. “There are 44 million people experiencing food insecurity in the U.S. but we’re throwing away the equivalent of 145 billion meals annually,” Flashfood found. “Throwing away food while people are going hungry just doesn’t make sense.”

Flashfood calls produce “the real food waste culprit.” Think of the bountiful fruit and vegetable displays at your local grocery store. Not all of those items get sold. When it comes to produce, “consumers have high appearance standards, it’s hard to inventory, and it’s overstocked,” the report stated. So produce alone makes up more than a third of all surplus food, accounting for about 30 million tons of food waste each year.

So making more of that surplus food available to more shoppers, and for less money, is Flashfood’s goal. It’s in the process of expanding the ability to pay with SNAP benefits nationwide, to make sure the most food insecure shoppers have easy access to its deals as well. And in the far-off future, “if all 115,000 eligible retailers in the U.S. launched Flashfood,” the report estimated, “eight million people would be lifted out of food insecurity each year.”

So far, Flashfood is partnered with grocery chains like Stop & Shop, Meijer, Hy-Vee, Giant Eagle and Tops. By its next impact report, it hopes to be partnered with many more.

“The aim of Flashfood’s annual impact report is not just to communicate our progress, but to offer research and insights the industry can benefit from,” Flashfood CEO Nicholas Bertram said in a statement. “I genuinely believe that the best days of humanity are ahead of us, not behind us, and I hope the industry can join me in this optimism.”

It’s hard to be optimistic while grocery shopping these days, when you see your total at the register rising and your wallet emptying. But Flashfood hopes to make grocery shopping a little more affordable in the year to come – and a lot better for your health as well.

Image source: Flashfood

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