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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Daily Table, Non-Profit Grocery Selling Surplus Food, Now Open in Boston

Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery store selling surplus and slightly aging food, has finally opened its doors in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.

The creation of former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch, the store aims to bring affordable nutrition to underserved populations in cities. Its products are inexpensive compared to other grocery stores – a dozen eggs for 99 cents, 49 cents a pound for potatoes, and 29 cents a pound for bananas – because most of the stock is donated from wholesalers and markets.

Frustrated by the wholesome food he saw being thrown out by grocers, Rauch announced the idea for Daily Table in late 2013. A huge cause of excessive food waste is the “sell-by” dates printed on products, which signal consumers to avoid purchases past these dates.

But such labels can be misleading; for example, freshness dates do not indicate when products will expire, but rather when their freshness has peaked. Consuming these food items a few days after the printed date is still perfectly healthy, Rauch contends. Additionally, the mainstream consumer tends to avoid produce with cosmetic blemishes, furthering the waste of nutritious products.

If Daily Table is successful, Rauch hopes to scale the model to other cities around the country, helping to combat the “food deserts” in central cities. Initial reactions to the store seem positive, reports NPR. Shopper Manuel Goncalves came away with a cart full of groceries costing $30.46. “That’s it? Wow!” he said.

While food waste around the world is a systemic problem, a number of recent efforts have focused on grocers:

  • In December, the UK’s answer to the Daily Table, called Community Shop, opened in London — the first in a project aimed at reducing food waste and supporting low-income households, by reselling surplus food from some of Britain’s largest supermarkets (including Asda, Tesco and M&S) at highly discounted prices to food-insecure locals.
  • In a landmark move late last month, France's parliament voted to forbid major supermarkets from destroying unsold food, encouraging them to donate to charities or to farms for animal feed, as part of a national campaign against food waste; an estimated that up to 66 pounds of food are wasted per person each year. The French government announced in 2012 that it wants to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2025.
  • And earlier this week, Tesco announced a partnership with UK food redistribution charity FareShare and Irish social enterprise FoodCloud to trial the FareShare FoodCloud app in the UK; the organizations will work together to redirect surplus food from Tesco stores to people in need throughout the UK.

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