Could Mobile Payments Help Restaurants Address Food Waste?

January 18, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

One of the tough parts about being in a restaurant operation is that there’s no way to know just how much of anything to have on hand. Sure, if you’re preparing a special promotional dish, you know to have a lot of that on hand, but what about a regular Tuesday? If everyone’s suddenly hungry for roast beef, your supply of chicken salad won’t help. Therefore, new mobile apps are emerging to help restaurants address the issue of “surplus meals” in a way better than just throwing them out.

One such app, Feedback, came about when its co-founder Josh Walters was out for a late-night pizza run. The owner of the pizza shop made Josh an offer he couldn’t refuse: all of the shop’s remaining pizza for a price barely profitable to the shop. The end result was that Josh got way more pizza than he expected for “a fraction of what they would normally cost”, and he also got an idea.

The idea? There must be more than one restaurant that’s faced this same dilemma, but had literally no way to tell anybody that this was totally a possibility. Now, Feedback works with 300 different restaurants that offer a wide range of products, so if you’re looking for discounts on pizza, cold-pressed juice or sushi, hit up Feedback. A dynamic pricing model within the app helps shoppers spot bargains and restaurants drop goods that are still technically fresh but well on their way to becoming not-so.

Some might recoil at the idea of buying “surplus meals”, but why not? Why not offer up technically-fresh items for a discount rather than toss them out? Sure, some might prefer to see them donated to food banks or soup kitchens or the like, but selling them for cheap would serve at least a similar purpose and without a lot of red tape that would come along with donations. A mobile app isn’t even necessary; a simple website would do this job just as well, though with mobile apps you could use mobile payments and prepay for the food in advance.

In the end, restaurants will likely want an easy way to dispose of excess food, and mobile apps comprising a surplus meals marketplace of sorts is a reasonably sound way of doing so.