Loblaw expands food waste reduction program

The grocer will make the Flashfood app, which helps customers find items nearing expiration, available at more than 250 stores.

Flashfood

Loblaw is rolling out its partnership with Flashfood to additional stores in Canada as it continues to look for new ways to reduce food waste in its stores.

The app-based Flashfood program, which is currently available 139 Maxi and Provigo stores in Quebec, can now be used at Real Canadian Superstore locations in Ontario. By the end of the summer, Loblaw will roll it out to an additional 250 stores, including Real Canadian Superstore locations in Western Canada, Zehrs stores in Ontario and all of its Atlantic Superstore locations.

Through the Flashfood app, customers have access to a variety of food items that are nearing expiration and offered at a reduced price, including meat, produce, bakery items, dairy products and non-perishable food items. Customers select a store and the items they wish to purchase through the app, then pick them up in dedicated Flashfood zones in-store.

In a press release, Gord Chem, SVP of Real Canadian Superstore Operations for Loblaw, said the program “allows us to provide our customers with a convenient and environmentally sustainable way to purchase food.”

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Chem said 150,000 Loblaws customers have signed up and 76% use the app weekly, adding that the company currently sells 77% of the food it makes available through the app.

Loblaw is not the first grocery retailer to partner with the food waste app. In 2017, Flashfood ran a pilot with Farm Boy, which was found to have diverted more than 1,200 meals from landfills. In exchange, customers earned a 40% to 60% discount on select foods.

Last year, Loblaw committed to reducing store-generated food waste by 50% across its retail operations by 2025. Since 2015, the company has been selling produce that’s smaller in size or slightly misshapen at discounted rates under its No Name brand. That program expanded in 2017 to include 36 different products, including frozen fruits and veggies.

The latest announcement follows the grocery chain’s decision to partner with sustainable packaging program Loop on a pilot program next year. Through Loop, it will offer select products in sustainable, reusable packaging in an effort to reduce waste.