Toronto-based tech startup aims to reduce landfill waste by allowing app users to buy surplus food at deeply discounted prices.
This Fall, a mobile app called ‘Flashfood’ will be launching in Toronto and will aim to cut down on our city’s collective food waste problem by giving food shoppers the ability to access steep discounts on high quality surplus food from a growing number of restaurants and grocery stores across the downtown area.
An estimated $6+ billion of food is wasted in Canada each year at the grocery and restaurant levels, much of which is thrown out well before its best before date (i.e. days, weeks or even months, depending on the food item). We’re not talking about food that’s gone bad, we’re talking about perfectly good food that’s either overstocked or not deemed beautiful enough to make it to the shelves Flashfood aims to decrease the amount of food sent to landfills, while cutting costs for consumers when they’re shopping for food and increasing revenue for vendors on otherwise lost revenue.
Flashfood partners with grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries/cafes and catering companies near you that have surplus food to sell. It’s simple to use. The vendor will post a picture of the food, set a price and include a pick-up time deadline. The user can pay for the food through the app and then pick it up in store. The food will be offered at a minimum 50 percent discount, and nothing will be sold after its best-before date.
Additionally, Flashfood is partnering with local organizations to help create a solution for low income families/individuals to take part in their service at no cost.
“It’s important that we make food accessible to everyone. The fact that significant hunger exists when all this food is being thrown is staggering. We’re aiming to stop that,” said Flashfood Founder and CEO, Josh Domingues
The idea for Flashfood came one evening early in 2016 when Domingues was buried in paperwork on Bay Street in downtown Toronto. His sister Paula, a chef who freelances for catering companies, called him in tears. She was upset and angry because she’d just been instructed to throw away $4,000 worth of clams, and shortly after was walking by homeless people who could have used those leftovers.
“Paula was so frustrated, she ended up leaving the company because she couldn’t deal with throwing out perfectly good food on a regular basis,” said Domingues. “Her frustration inspired me to look into the issue of food waste.”
Since that point, momentum has grown for the idea and the company is now a team of eight – including a food writer, an investment banker, a social media specialist, ios tech experts and consultants – all working to make flashfood a reality.
“Similar to Airbnb or Uber, our success is based on our simple, easy-to-use user experience, a solid network of vendors using the app, and users we believe truly care about the harmful effects of food waste” said Domingues. “We believe we have a lot of the right pieces in place as we launch to the public.”
The app is set to be available for download on Android and iOS later this fall, and is revolutionizing the cycle of food-purchasing for Canadians, allowing users to securely pre-pay for surplus food items in only a few taps.
“This is food that would otherwise go in the garbage. It’s literally lost profit and lost revenue.” said Domingues. “The model is a win-win for everybody. It’s a win for the users because they’re buying food at a discount. It’s a win for the food vendors because they’re now able to sell food they would have otherwise thrown out. And it’s a win for the environment as we divert food away from landfills.”
The first step in the company’s roll-out will be beta testing in restaurants and grocery stores in a small number of Toronto-based businesses, before a wider launch across Canada.
To get notified when the app has launched, visit Flashfood and register.
Katie Edmonds is a Toronto-based environmental writer, digital strategist and part of the founding team at Flashfood. She’s passionate about GHG reduction and sees food-waste reduction as a critical piece of the clean economy solution.