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Google and Sainsbury's are the food rescuers

June 13, 2014

An increase in Google searches looking for advice on using leftover food has inspired a partnership between the search engine and British supermarket Sainsbury's. Suggestions are provided for leftovers from cooked meals as well as surplus ingredients.

Discounts and special offers such as two-fers, BOGOs and bulk buys often leave consumers wondering what to do with excess food. Sometimes figuring out how to combine a random assortment of remnants can be overwhelming.

Visitors using either a computer or mobile device to access www.sainsburysfoodrescue.co.uk will find more than 1,200 recipes for anything from simple snacks to "showstopping" suppers. Users can type or use speech to enter up to nine ingredients to get recipes, often contributed by Love Food Hate Waste, a non-profit organisation raising awareness of the need to reduce food waste "by offering easy, practical, everyday suggestions."

Love Food Hate Waste is part of WRAP (www.wrap.org.uk), which encourages recycling in the UK as well as helping create a market for recycled materials and developing government strategies.

[Image: Food Rescue]

Sainsbury's Food Rescue is powered by Google. Indy Saha, director of creative strategy at Google said, "More people in Britain are online than ever before and this growth is driven by tablets and smartphones. ... Using our voice search technology, the Food Rescue tool allows Sainsbury's customers to use up the food that they might otherwise throw away."

Google's data showed an increase in leftover recipe searches of more than a third over the past year, with 64 per cent done using mobile devices, according to energylivenews.com. In response, Sainsbury's has launched the app in an effort to reduce avoidable waste and consumer expense.

Marketing director, Sarah Warby, said in a statement, "Shopping habits have really changed. Families are savvier than ever, looking for practical help to make the most of the food in their cupboards and fridges. ... We know that confidence and knowhow can really help people reduce the amount of food they throw away."

According to Energylivenews, the app displays details of how much the saved food weighs and how much money each recipe saves, including which regions are "rescuing" the most food.

Discussion Questions:

Are American consumers open to seeking ways to reduce their food waste? Would a "Food Rescue" type program work in the U.S.?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

How successful would a similar program to that between Google and Sainsbury's be in the U.S.?


Building a brand with a loyal following requires more than good products and pricing. This is a very smart move in positioning Sainsbury's brand value beyond the store itself. They are already seeing a benefit of increased traffic to their website which is extremely hard to generate.

While the US consumers might not be quite as value-conscious as the Brits (yet), many families are struggling to make ends meet. Not sure that "food rescue" is the right term for the US, but voice search on how to use leftovers to stretch a meal would seem to be very appealing to time-starved moms stretching their food budgets.

Success of such a program in the US would require major support from one or more national food retailers. The key is seamless integration ... mobile apps/search to quickly see how to use existing food and supplement as required with store purchases. If it's not easy and quick—it won't happen.

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Chris Petersen, PhD, President, Integrated Marketing Solutions

This is a project that I have dealt with for over 30 years. My parents taught me not to waste food, as many people are going hungry. Many years ago I teamed up with a soup kitchen from the Salvation Army, and a local church, which has a kitchen as well. Our small store saves bakery, deli, meat, produce and vendor credits, which are perfectly safe, to donate each Tuesday for these charities. I have sat in these kitchens talking with the folks, who maybe get one meal each day, and the smile on their faces is priceless.

We as Americans are very spoiled, and throw away billions of pounds of perfectly edible food each year, which is insane. I tried to get every restaurant and store in my county to participate in this program, but many refused to cooperate for a variety of reasons. The good thing is that the awareness factor is out there, and I feel proud to have changed our little community. Many people over the years have been fed by some very creative cooks, who volunteer in these soup kitchens every day to help the less fortunate.

I wish more could be done, and I know some major restaurant chains who throw all of the prep food each night into the garbage, which sickens me. The annual amount of food our store provides is around 12,000 pounds, and could you imagine the totality of this, if more could be done.

There are major chains which provide pallets of food directly to food banks, and that is awesome, but to just waste food, without thinking of the local needs in every community, is something very disturbing to me. Yes, I am passionate about this, and if anyone reading this feels the same way, then try to encourage your local store to hook up with their local soup kitchens, if they haven't done so already. It is the right thing to do.

Have a GREAT weekend, everyone.

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Tony Orlando, Owner, Tony O's Supermarket & Catering

It is Friday the 13th and a full moon at 12:11 EDT. Not safe to answer this. I can say that from the small group of friends that I have, the extra food has no chance. They do not cook much and donate what they do not use.

Now, I have found that we end up with too many types of cereals so I mix them all to create a blend. 15 years ago we started doing this with pop (OK, soda to some) and it became the norm with my kids.

  • Coke Beer: root beer and Cokeregular or diet
  • 7 Redd: 7 Up and red pop
  • Ginger Baby: ginger ale, root beer and a splash of Dr. Pepper

OK, back to hiding on the 13th!

Cheers to all


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Tom Redd, Global Vice President, Strategic Communications, SAP Global Retail Business Unit

Americans routinely waste enough food in a week to feed a small emerging nation for a month. It all starts with our (literally) inflated idea of portion sizes and moves downhill from there.

This is really a class division issue. The poorer the household the more appeal this idea has but (with the obvious exception of Walmart) as a group American retailers haven't shown a real inclination to deal respectfully with poorer households.

Before Americans could be open to the idea of controlling food waste they'd first have to a. cook more at home, and b. get a better handle of what appropriate meal sizes are in the first place.

Will some here warm to the idea? No doubt. But they are probably so inclined to begin with.

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Ryan Mathews, Founder, ceo, Black Monk Consulting

Reducing food waste is something that all the people concerned about the environment could get behind. However, "Food Rescue" is not likely to be a successful name. It gives the impression that food is being rescued from the garbage or from an unfortunate accident like falling on the floor. Vintage clothing is much more attractive than donated or used clothing. Is there a positive spin to making a second attractive and interesting meal from leftovers? That could be very attractive.

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Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D., President, Global Collaborations, Inc.

I hate hate hate throwing food out, so I love love love this app! My husband, being the shopper and the cook in our household, loves to hang out at the International Market on Saturdays, just for fun. He sees all kinds of neat foods and just buys them. Arggggg....

The problem is, he often has no idea what he is going to do with the things he has bought. I go nuts!!! This is an app that he would actually use, assuming that the recipes are good and meet our tastes.

So yes, I do think this kind of app would work here for many reasons, including the one above. I also think we are all becoming much more conscientious about waste. Where do I sign up? And that's my 2 cents....

Lee Kent, Sharing Insights for Success in Retail, YourRetailAuthority

The large amount of food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today's tough economy and for the food retailers. There is no single cure, or silver bullet for food waste reduction, therefore, we should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of fresh perishables close to their expiration on supermarket shelves, combined with the consumer "Last In First Out" shopping behavior, might be the weakest link of the fresh food supply chain.

The new "Food Rescue" App combined with the "End Grocery Waste" App in the U.S. will encourage efficient in-store shopping that maximizes grocery retailer revenue. Offering in-store deals on fresh perishables approaching their expiration dates to be used in simple recipes will make fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduce the global carbon footprint.

Rod Averbuch, Consultant, Averbuch Innovation

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