Topic Resources

Tools Used
Initiated By
  • Flashfood
  •  Grocers

In 2022:

  • Rescued 12,755 metric tonnes from landfill
  • Saved consumers a total of US $56.2 million

Case Study PDF


According to Second Harvest, almost 60% (35.5 million metric tonnes) of food produced in Canada is wasted annually. Roughly 32% (1.2 million tonnes) is still edible. The app informs users about local food nearing its best before date, often discounted by 50% or more. While some items may only be usable for a day or two, others can last for weeks – especially if frozen or cooked. The Flashfood app enables food stores to sell food that would otherwise be thrown out, while reducing their carbon footprint.  Consumers are able buy food that they would otherwise deem too expensive.


Note: To minimize site maintenance costs, all case studies on this site are written in the past tense, even if they are ongoing as is the case with this particular program.

Food waste is a top contributor of methane gas and climate change. Food stores typically mark down items nearing their best before dates and throw them away if unsold. Many food stores have programs to mitigate food waste, for example to improve procurement and operating procedures and shorten supply chains to keep food fresher and longer. In addition, some stores donate older food items to charities, food banks and farms for animal feed. But not all the stores’ food waste can be eliminated this way. The Flashfood app was created by Toronto entrepreneur Josh Domingues in 2016, after his chef sister threw out $4,000 worth of food following a catered event.

Getting Informed

After coming up with the basic concept for Flashfood, Domingues interviewed hundreds of grocery employees and top-level executives in the grocery industry to learn how to make the idea practical.

Then, Domingues piloted the approach with a few stores belonging to three supermarket chains: Farm Boy and Longos in Ontario, and Buy-Low Foods in Vancouver B.C.

Flashfood continued to carry out consumer research. For example, it ran an online survey in April 2023 with 2,018 U.S. adults ages 18+. That survey’s findings were accurate to within +/- 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.

Delivering the Program

Flashfood targeted consumers who would buy this food. To be able to offer this food, Flashfood also targeted supermarkets as suppliers.

Using the Flashfood app, participating food stores posted details with pictures of food items nearing their best before date. (Vivid, Empowering Communication)

The grocers provided the fridges and racks to store these foods, moved the food to these locations, and uploaded items to the app. Flashfood handled payments for retailers and kept a cut for itself. Domingues says that the stores were “still donating as much as previously. What we’re selling is product that goes unsold in addition to what is recovered by food banks and food rescue.”

Using the app, consumers could easily find and see pictures of what was available in nearby stores. Next, they purchased and paid for the food using the app. Then, they picked up the items in a special zone (with a refrigerator and/or storage rack) near the front of the store. (Overcoming Specific Barriers, Prompts)

Consumers benefited because:

  • They could buy food at a deep discount, which made it possible for more people to eat a healthy diet. (Financial Incentives)
  • They got to see themselves as part of a climate solution. (Norm Appeals)

Stores benefited because:

  • They could earn money from food that they would otherwise throw out. For example, in 2019 Loblaws sold 77% of the food it posted on Flashfood, earning $US 800 to $US 1,000 weekly at its largest stores. (Financial Incentives)
  • Stores paid less to dispose of the food they couldn’t sell. (Financial Incentives)
  • They got a PR boost from helping the environment and providing affordable food. (Norm Appeals)

The following strategies were used to make the app even more appealing and popular.


  • Consumers were encouraged to recruit their friends as users. If a friends’ first purchase was over $15, both the friend and the person who recruited that friend got $3 off. (Word of Mouth)
  • The app told users how much food and how much money they had saved. (Feedback)


  • Flashfood continued to recruit new supermarket chains through pilot implementations. For example, Meijer saw food waste reduced by 10% in its pilot, which helped convince the chain to expand the program to all 246 of its stores. (Financial Incentives)

The following table summarizes the key barriers to action and how each was addressed. 


How it was addressed 

Inconvenient for consumers to hunt for these discounted items. They often didn’t know what ‘rescuable’ food was available locally.

·       Consumers could find and see pictures of what was available in nearby stores using the app.


·        Consumers paid for the food items using the app, then picked up the items in a special zone (refrigerator or storage rack) near the front of the store.

Some consumers found it challenging to pay the full cost of buying food.

·        Consumers got a deep discount using the app.

Food stores could run into problems contributing leftover food to charities that had limited storage and refrigeration space.

·        Food stores could sell leftover food using the app.

Food stores found perishables hard to provide to food banks, because they had such a short shelf life.

·        Flashfood was designed to handle items that needed to be sold and eaten within a day or two.

Flashfood initially raised $1.5 million from angel investors. It was then accepted into the Techstars Retail accelerator program in Minneapolis, which led to further pilots in Target and Hy-Vee supermarkets in the U.S. Midwest and helped Flashfood raise additional venture financing.

Financing the Program

It is rare for climate change mitigation programs to fund themselves; this one did so by enabling Flashfood to take a cut of the revenues from recovered food.

Measuring Achievements

Using the app, the food stores entered the amount of each item posted. The app then tracked the total amount of items sold.


The app told users how much food and how much money they had saved.


In 2022, the app rescued an average of 4.3 kg of food per user, saving an average of US $19.15 per user. That year it rescued 12,755 metric tonnes from landfill, was used by 2,937,157 people, and saved them a total of US $56.2 million.


  • This approach used an app to reduce the barriers that both consumers and food stores faced in reducing food waste, while enabling both consumers and food stores to save money and gain other significant benefits. It was one of the few apps available that helped reduce food waste by positioning it to consumers as a way they could help slow climate change.
  • Earned the #1 spot in Social Good.
  • Named the #1 Clean Tech company in Deloitte Technology’s Fast 50, in 2022.
  • Included in Fast Company’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies, in 2023.

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