Tyson, Flashfood to reduce waste by selling boxes of surplus food
Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified Flashfood.
- Toronto-based Flashfood and Tyson Innovation Lab are partnering to offer boxes of high quality surplus food through a direct-to-consumer program called flashfoodbox, launched as a 90-day pilot in Detroit, according to a news release. Boxes are ordered online or through a mobile app and delivered to a buyer’s doorstep.
- Each flashfoodbox contains about 15 pounds of surplus food, including nearly 10 pounds of fruits and vegetables and five pounds of protein at a cost of $44.99 per box. Boxes include enough food to prepare about 14 meals at less than $4 per serving, Flashfood officials say. Those who subscribe to a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly delivery receive a 10% discount.
- Through these efforts, the companies are striving to help educate buyers on facts of food waste, Josh Domingues, founder and CEO of Flashfood, said in the release. He noted nearly one-third of all food produced in the U.S. ends up as waste. By using surplus food as the basis for flashfoodbox, the products are made available to consumers at a much lower price than they would pay at the grocery store, providing a way for people on a budget to prepare healthful, low-cost meals, Domingues said.
Domingues launched Flashfood a little more than a year ago as a way to connect growers, grocers and restaurants looking to sell surplus food with consumers looking for low-cost food options. Many consumers who support sustainability may want to purchase irregular foods but may not know which store to head to, he said.
Tyson has partnered with Flashfood to provide proteins that are safe to eat but not suitable for sale in U.S. grocery stores, such as improperly cut chicken breasts or sausage packages. Delivery makes sense in an area like Detroit, where residents may not have means or desire to drive lengthy distances to participate. What’s more, nonprofit group Forgotten Harvest is also delivering donated boxes to Detroit families in need.
Many U.S. grocery retailers have touted programs to reduce food waste in recent months, including Kroger and Walmart, with mixed results. And because these giants control so much of the U.S. food supply chain and have direct links with consumers, farmers and processors, they are likely to have the most positive impact on environmental changes, Harvard Business Review notes.
But Tyson, as a CPG company, stands out. The company’s work with Flashfood could be a great way to show it supports sustainability while making at least some profit on foods that would have been tossed. Company officials note Tyson has been donating surplus food to charities for years, and bring experience with food supply chain management into the partnership. What’s more, if a company works with a redistrubuting entity like Flashfood, officials don’t have to think about logistics of food waste programs.
Overall, marrying consumer demand for sustainability, affordability and home delivery seems like a smart move. But 15 pounds is quite a bit of food, and delivery of such large boxes could end up leading to waste if customers simply throw leftovers into the garbage pail. In order for such a program to scale throughout the U.S. — and in areas where it’s likely to face more competition than Detroit — Flashfood likely must consider home delivery for everyone, and find ways to make that system profitable even if consumers prefer to order smaller amounts of food.