Fulltime HEL: Episode 12 - Froodly
I wouldn’t call myself frugal or even cheap. I’m practical. I only spend my money on the things I need. Though my wife would argue otherwise since I buy the occasional videogame. My one true exception is food. It’s the one area where I’ll happily splurge to eat a good meal, or learn to cook something new. That of course means I buy good produce — I don’t say best, because that’s relative.
But in buying anything, whether it’s from the grocery store or any other shop I try to find a balance between price and quality. Some purchases I’m going to have to spend more for by their very nature. A game console is going to easily be a couple hundred dollars, but what I spend on that I save in having to continually upgrade a computer over the years.
For food, like most people, I buy either brands I know or I compare prices. If something is on sale, I tend to buy that, but only if it’s the brand I prefer. I don’t jump between them just because one’s cheaper today. But Finland challenges me in that regard with last minute rebates, and a new startup is hoping to do the same.
But before that…
On this episode, Froodly, crowd sourcing our food before it goes bad.
Meat, bread and plenty of other produce, most things really are put on sale once their sell-by-date is close. More often than not things are reduced by 30% and advertised as so with big orange stickers. This is great, if such items are in your store.
Finland, like a lot of Europe, relies on smaller stores in the cities. Outside of the major metropolitan areas stores tend towards the big box styles, mimicking Walmart, Target and Tescos, though without such brand names. Here there are two Finnish conglomerates and Lidl competing in the grocery space. But regardless of what type of store is available more often than not you have to go to different ones just to fulfill your full shopping list.
In my case, we have two Alepas nearby, one slightly bigger than the other and thus offering a wider selection. Together, they still doesn’t have everything. Fresh meat, poultry and fish being the most notable exception. Which is where an app like Froodly would come in handy. If I have to travel to another store anyways I might as well have some additional information to help with that decision.
That was Brennan Clark and Shahram Eivazi of Froodly, but I’ll let them tell you more about themselves.
Froodly, in effect, tells you what’s on sale at a particular store. But not based on traditional promotions. Rather, it’s focused on the food that is set to reach its sell-by-date soon. And as all of us know, just because the milk says it’ll go bad on a particular day doesn’t mean it will. Hell, some countries in the EU, like Greece, purposely set very short sell-by-dates on imported milk in order to protect local producers. For more on that, check out Planet Money episode 639: Where to Hide €50,000, And Other Stories From Greece.
It’s my belief that people only adopt new behaviors or change old ones when the incentive is great enough, or it’s easy enough. People are just flat out lazy. So going to another store to save some money isn’t that strange. But the behavior of pulling out your phone and taking photos of food, that isn’t already prepared and served up nicely on a plate isn’t inherently easy to adopt.
Selling four products for every one product thrown out is quite the demand. And it’s not just an issue faced by big store chains, but anyone who owns a market stall as well. That last leek can been notoriously difficult to sell, because without its brethren, that lone leek just looks lame. People see it and think there must be something wrong with it, why else would no one have bought it. What they should be thinking is, those most be good leeks, they’re almost all gone.
Focusing so much on sell-by-dates isn’t without its effects for both Brennan and Shahram.
So have you had any good experiences with food past its sell-by-date? If so, Froodly wants to hear more from you. Of course if you want to try the app, you can find all the information here:
It’s funny, in the years since I’ve left the States I’ve stopped thinking about sell-by-dates. I simply don’t buy anything in such large quantities that I have to worry about milk spoiling. Plus with two stores in my immediate vicinity and another three a short walk away I never have to stock up. But it also means I’m less concerned about a food’s supposed spoilage and am more willing to buy produce that is set to go off, all because it’s on sale. Maybe once I switch from a Windows Phone to an iPhone I’ll take Froodly for a test run myself.
On the next episode of Fulltime HEL, EntoCube, changing out culinary culture with crickets. The big reveal — they’re trying to get people to eat bugs.