Going twice? Stop & Shop app discounts near-best-by food 2023


Eggs, milk and bread.

Most Americans have them in their kitchens.

They are also some of the fastest to buy through Flashfood, an app-based store that just started selling discounted food close to its best-by date at about 60 more Stop & Shop supermarkets in New York state, including 31 of the 50 on Long Island.

Retail experts and food bank officials say that more people on Long Island are looking for discount programs and other ways to get help with food because inflation is high and food insecurity is getting worse.

Retail experts say that even though grocery price inflation has slowed down since last year, when it jumped 11.4%, it was the fastest growth in almost 50 years. This isn’t enough to stop people from wanting discount programs for their food shopping, though.

Andy Jump, vice president and general manager of the Incentives and Loyalty unit at Inmar Intelligence in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said that coupon redemption rates are up 20% year over year, even though food inflation dropped to 8.4% in March.

“Shoppers haven’t felt any relief yet because the demand is still there,” he said.

Stop & Shop spokesman Daniel Wolk said that buyers can use an app on their phones to get discounts, usually 50% off, on perishable food that is between one and five days away from its best-by date. He said that you can buy things on the app up to a year after their “best by” dates.

“Flashfood Zones” are places inside shops where customers can pick up the things they’ve bought.

Jordan Schenck, Flashfood’s chief brand officer, said that the food sold through the app is safe and of good quality.

Stop & Shop started working with Flashfood in 2021 and now has about 300 stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island that offer the app service.

Flashfood Inc. was started in 2016 and is based in Toronto. It has teamed up with 23 shops to offer app deals at more than 1,700 stores in the U.S. and Canada, but Stop & Shop is the only one on Long Island.

The company’s website says, “Flashfood is a way for grocers to get money back into their bottom line and waste less food.”

The company said that 3 million people in North America use the app.

Laurence and Paula Jaffe of Worcester, Massachusetts, use the Flashfood app to get 75% off their goods at Stop & Shop. The rest of their groceries come from a military commissary, according to Laurence, 80, a retired Air Force master sergeant.

“It’s worth my time because it cuts down on food waste,” said Jaffe, who said he and his wife have saved about $4,000 on the app in the last 1.5 years.

Both sides

The grocery store said that food that has passed its “best-by” date but is still safe to eat according to Feeding America, a network of food banks, is given to local groups that help people who are hungry.

Randi Dresner, president and CEO of the Melville-based charity Island Harvest Food Bank, said that Stop & Shop is one of the stores that gives the most food to the organization. Island Harvest Food Bank is the biggest food bank on Long Island. She said that about 12 years ago, Island Harvest and Stop & Shop worked together to test a meat rescue program. Stop & Shop froze meat that was close to its best-by date and gave it to the charity.

Now, under the expanded program, Stop & Shop and other stores give Island Harvest an average of 800,000 pounds of frozen meat and other protein sources every year.

She said that Island Harvest thinks the grocer’s relationship with Flashfood could have both good and bad effects on the nonprofit’s work to feed people in need.

“On the one hand, if it works, it might cut down on the amount of food that Stop & Shop gives to Island Harvest so that we can give it to people in need in the community,” she said.

On the other hand, she said, Flashfood will make it easier for people who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, to buy more groceries. This will give them the freedom to buy healthy food.

Even so, the number of people who don’t have enough food to eat is growing on Long Island, a city known for its high median wages and high cost of living.

Idalia “Dali” Boczek, director of satellite services for the Hauppauge-based nonprofit, said that in the first three months of 2023, the five food pantries run by Long Island Cares helped 36,043 people who needed food. This is a 59.5% rise over the same time last year.

She said, “I have a feeling that it’s going to go up.”

She said that some of the increase in need is because the brief increase in SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemics ended in March.

Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said that there are a number of reasons why food prices are still high. One is that commodity production in Ukraine and parts of Russia has been cut off, and another is that the pandemic may be limiting production in some parts of the world.