An ingenious solution to the growing problem of food waste, this app provides a win-win solution for everyone.
Josh Domingues was working late at a wealth management company in Toronto when he got a call from his sister Paula, who works in catering. She was deeply upset on the phone, since she’d been instructed to throw away $4,000 worth of clams, and then had walked passed hungry, homeless people on the street who could have benefited from that food.
This anecdote, recounted in Vice’s Motherboard blog, was the catalyst for Domingues’ career change and newfound interest in food security. He quit his job and began working on an app called Flashfood, which is set for release on August 1, 2016.
The idea behind Flashfood is brilliant, as it connects consumers with food that is slated for disposal at restaurants and grocery stores. Retailers will create a post that includes pickup location, estimated expiry date, and a photo. The item has to be steeply discounted; at least 60 percent is required by the app, but Domingues says the target discount is 75 percent.
“If you turn on notifications for a grocery store or restaurant near where you live, or a specific type of food—say, pastries or meats—your phone will be pinged when that retailer has the item you’re after for sale. You can then view the photo, a description of the food on sale, and what it’s selling for. After paying with a credit card, you’re given a confirmation code to show the retailer, and the goodies are yours.”
Flashfood provides a practical solution to the growing problem of global food waste. In Canada, food waste is tragically on the rise, with an estimated $31 billion worth of food getting tossed annually, up from $27 billion in 2010. It goes to landfill, where it rots and emits methane, a greenhouse gas more powerful than carbon dioxide.
As Domingues pointed out to Now Toronto, "If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest producer of greenhouse gas, behind China and the States. It's upsetting. It's heartbreaking.”
With Flashfood, everyone benefits.
Businesses can make money off items that would otherwise be thrown away and consumers get discounted food, all while challenging the absurdly excessive practice of throwing away perfectly good food. So far 15 restaurants have signed on, and one large grocery chain is in the works. Says Domingues in Now Toronto:
"We believe that once one chain signs on, there's going to be a trickle-down effect, and they'll all want it. They're trying to reduce shrink [product loss] in each department, and it's almost idiot-proof for them to use.”
What about charitable organizations that collect and distribute food? Domingues believes that many retailers are “reluctant to adopt [these initiatives] because of the cost and logistics involved,” and choose to throw away food because it’s simpler. Hopefully Flashfood will also get more people and businesses interested in the issue of food waste, which will increase the overall amount of near-expired food available for consumption.
Flashfood hopes to expand into other Canadian cities by 2017. Learn more at www.flashfood.co