Things are getting “ugly” for Toronto startup Flashfood.
The service, which debuted last year offering surplus food from grocery retailers at discounted prices, is launching a delivery service called Flashfoodbox that will bring 8 lb. to 9 lb. of misshapen fruits and vegetables to customers’ door for $26.50.
The company has partnered with a handful of growers and farmers in the Leamington, Ont. region – home to more than 60% of the greenhouses in Ontario – who will supply misshapen produce including carrots, peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, root vegetables, fruits, etc.
“One of the biggest reasons for waste outside of the home is aesthetic expectations from grocers,” says Flashfood founder Josh Domingues. “Grocers believe that consumers want aesthetically perfect food, which means they have specific criteria around [the food they accept]. If items don’t meet that criteria, they don’t get accepted.”
Flashfood is also looking to partner with manufacturers of non-perishable items to include their products with customer orders. “These companies have a lot of surplus because of the requirements from grocers,” says Domingues, a recipient of Canadian Grocer‘s 2017 Generation Next award. “There’s a ton of stuff that gets lost in the shuffle that’s still really good to eat.”
Domingues says Flashfood is close to a deal with one of the country’s major confectionery companies that would see it add an item such as a chocolate bar to the Flashfoodbox for a nominal fee. That fee will be donated to organizations committed to helping local communities deal with food insecurity.
Additionally, Flashfood is beginning a 90-day pilot for Flashfoodbox in Detroit next month. It will add surplus protein that is perfectly edible but deemed unsuitable for U.S. grocers – such as improperly cut chicken breast and sausage packages – through a partnership with Tyson Foods.
Flashfood currently has more than 40,000 registered users on its platform, and Domingues says more than 15,000 meals have been diverted from landfill since the company was founded. Approximately one-third of the world’s food – the equivalent of 1.3 billion tonnes a year – currently goes to waste.
More than half of the food that has been made available on the Flashfood platform has been sold, while Domingues says for every $1 its users spend with Flashfood, they spend an additional $1.50 on regular-priced grocery items.
Flashfood currently has a partnership with Farm Boy in Ontario as well as Buy-Low Foods in Vancouver.