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Amid rising prices, Vancouverites flock to food waste app to save on grocery bills

The latest Consumer Price Index numbers show BC food prices are up nearly 10 per cent over the past year, forcing many people to adapt their grocery shopping habits. 

“There’s 44 per cent who are going into cheaper alternatives when they’re at the grocery store,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co.

Canseco’s latest poll shows British Columbians cutting back on everything from eating at restaurants to grabbing a cup of coffee. 

“It’s clear that even though inflation isn’t as bad as other countries, people are noticing more expensive groceries and starting to make sacrifices,” he said.

According to Too Good To Go – an app that addresses food waste issues by helping businesses sell their unsold items to consumers at a discounted price – around 35,000 people in Metro Vancouver have used the app since it was introduced to the Vancouver market in 2021.

“This really provides that kind of middle level opportunity to both recoup some of what would go to waste in terms of the food that they would produce that they would throw out, and then also help consumers to help eliminate waste and save some money on food that they would otherwise pay full price for,” said Sarah Soteroff, spokesperson for Too Good To Go.

According to the National Zero Waste Council, 2.3 million tonnes of edible food is wasted each year in Canada. 

“So we get some money, but more than that, we can save a lot of food per day,” said Westview Bakery owner Reza Norozi. “The day after, if they like it, they come back to get the fresh one, so it’s kind of an advertisement for us as well.”

Too Good To Go says more than 700 Greater Vancouver businesses have signed on with the app.

Flashfood is a similar app with dozens of grocery stores listed on its website.

“We know that people are using it for those everyday items like baked goods and grocery items, less on the specialty items,” said Soteroff.

She says consumers pay one-third of the regular price for their items, but it’s unlikely they’ll know exactly what they’ll receive. Items are placed in a "surprise bag" filled with whatever is left at the end of the day.

Businesses are rated by app users, meaning it’s likely in their best interest to provide value.

Canseco says he’s not surprised by this growing shopping trend.

“It’s not shocking, partly because everybody’s trying to do their best to try and squeeze those pennies,” he said. Top Stories

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