Food waste is an issue that retailers will have to get a handle on, sooner rather than later, and Meijer is taking a step in the right direction.
It launched a pilot with Flashfood, an app that allows customers to purchase food—such as meat, produce, seafood, deli and bakery products—that are nearing the sell-by date at up to 50% off. Consumers would select the food via the app, then pick it up at the four participating Meijer stores in the Detroit metro area. In-store food waste was reduced by 10% since the pilot began in November 2019.
The retailer is now launching the app chainwide. The rollout will begin at the end of February and will reach all 246 stores by the end of the year. (The app also is in pilot phases with Hy-Vee and Target.)
“In just a few months, we diverted thousands of pounds of food from landfills,” said Don Sanderson, group VP of fresh for Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich. "Minimizing in-store food waste is the right thing to do for our communities and our customers. We’re excited to expand upon these efforts and offer this opportunity to all our customers.”
Meijer uploads the surplus food that is close to its sell-by date onto the app, where customers can then select it for pickup at the store. Payment is processed via the app and in Meijer’s case, customers go to customer service to verify their order before picking it from coolers at the front of the store.
“Going from a pilot to the decision to roll out chainwide in less than three months with Meijer is indicative of how significant our collective impact is for everyday Americans,” said Josh Domingues, the founder and CEO of Flashfood, Toronto. “I can’t wait for more Meijer customers to have access to the Flashfood app, save money on their groceries and collectively reduce food waste in an innovative, fun way.”
The move may also help drive the value shopper into the stores and give them a new reason to visit, something all retailers can benefit from.