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Madison-area Hy-Vees help shoppers save cash, reduce food waste

Local grocery stores are piloting the Flashfood app, which lets shoppers browse and purchase food items approaching their “best before” date at significantly reduced prices.

Madison-area grocery shoppers can now save money at the register and help reduce food waste all with the tap of their smartphones.

Hy-Vee is piloting a new program with Flashfood, the first and only mobile app that partners with grocers to help reduce food waste by allowing shoppers to browse and purchase food items approaching their “best before” date at significantly reduced prices. The Flashfood app and program is now available at both Madison Hy-Vee locations, as well as the Fitchburg Hy-Vee store, making Greater Madison the first U.S. market to text the program.

According to Ross Grunwald, store director of Hy-Vee in Fitchburg, the food is still good inside, it’s just the packaging or appearance that turns customers off.

“Madison is a community known for its focus on sustainability, which made it a perfect location to pilot our partnership with Flashfood,” notes Christina Gayman, director of public relations for Hy-Vee.

“With approximately $160 billion worth of food thrown out each year in the U.S. alone, it’s important that we do our part as grocers to reduce food waste,” says Jessica Ringena, Hy-Vee’s vice president of innovation and business development. “We believe this pilot program could possibly help us save more than 30,000 pounds of food from being thrown out while also saving our customers thousands of dollars.”

By downloading the Flashfood App, Hy-Vee customers can browse through available deals on items like meat, dairy, bread, and snacks. Product purchases are then made directly from the customer’s phone and picked up on the same day from the Flashfood zone in the grocery store.

The program is a convenient way to decrease a family’s overall grocery bill while still receiving fresh food items and simultaneously making an impact on the environment by reducing unnecessary food waste, explains Gayman.

“Customers purchase the products they select based on a number of factors, and we work hard to offer options to fit every lifestyle and budget,” says Gayman. “Hy-Vee’s dedication to preserving our planet shows through initiatives aimed at reducing waste, like the launch of our Misfits program in 2017 and our ongoing food waste diversion practices. In 2018 alone, our food waste diversion programs at all of our Hy-Vee stores kept more than 25 million pounds of food waste out of landfills. This partnership with Flashfood is just one more way we can further increase our sustainability efforts.”

To date, Flashfood has partnered with five grocery chains to divert more than 100,000 units of food, which in greenhouse gas emissions is the equivalent of driving over 30,000 miles. Flashfood is anticipating launches in even more stores across the country over the next year.

“We’re thrilled Hy-Vee has chosen to participate in reducing their food waste through the Flashfood platform,” says Josh Domingues, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Flashfood. “They have a brand synonymous with innovation, and we are excited to offer their products from their Madison and Fitchburg locations to our community.”

How it works

1. After logging to the app, shoppers are directed to a map view and the one closest to their location will be highlighted as a green cart icon. Shoppers can switch to different locations by clicking on the cart icon. If they don’t see a location, they can zoom out of the map and center in on their location.

2. Once shoppers have settled on a location, they can swipe up to see the various food items available and simply click on an item to add it to their cart.

3. Once shoppers have chosen their items, they can make their purchases right on the app through their credit card, and then head to the store to pick them up.

4. The “Flashfood zone” is located near customer service with a fridge and shelves with Flashfood branding. Shoppers can collect their items from this area and then confirm their pickup at customer service.

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