After a successful pilot program that cut down on in-store food waste by more than 10 percent, Meijer announced it is expanding the sustainability effort to all its stores beginning in February.
The initiative allows customers to purchase food nearing its sell-by date—like meat, produce, seafood, deli and bakery products—at up to 50 percent off on the Flashfood app, and then pick them up at Meijer stores.
"In just a few months, we diverted thousands of pounds of food from landfills," said Don Sanderson, group vice president of Fresh for Meijer, in a statement. "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 began testing this effort in fall 2019 at four stores in Metro Detroit: Brighton, Waterford, Commerce and Howell. The test drew more than 1,000 active users during the pilot period.
Meijer now plans to expand the effort to each of its 246 stores by the end of 2020 with rollout beginning the end of February.
Flashfood is a Canadian-based company that allows retailers to upload surplus close-dated foods to their app, where items are available for purchase at a steep discount. Customers go to the app, select a Meijer store, choose the items they want to purchase and pay for them directly on the app at up to 50 percent off. Then, they go in store to pick up their items and confirm their order with customer service. The purchased food is stored in a refrigerator or storage rack located in the front of the store until picked up by the customer.
"Our team is really impressed with Meijer's pace, their exceptional ability to execute with us and their commitment to meaningfully reduce in-store food waste in their communities," said Josh Domingues, founder and CEO of Flashfood, in a statement. "Going from a pilot to the decision to roll out chain-wide in less than three months with Meijer is indicative of how significant our collective impact is for every day Americans. 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."
This is the latest effort in the retailer's commitment to sustainability. Meijer has a food rescue program that donated more than 13 million pounds of food in 2019 to local food banks. Meijer has also put food waste created during the manufacturing process of its foods to better use. For example, waste from Meijer dairy facilities in Tipp City, Ohio, and Holland, Mich., are being turned into animal feed, and fresh food byproducts from Middlebury, Ind., and Lansing, Mich., are sent for anaerobic digestion and being turned into compost.