The former president of Trader Joe’s, Doug Rauch, has spent a large portion of his career pushing organic foods at discounted prices through his former employers’ national chain of grocery stores. But now he has his sights trained on a new way to sell food at steep discounts. Mr. Rauch is currently in the midst of developing a new kind of grocery store that buys up all of the food that traditional grocery stores and super markets throw out at the end of the day. Many of the products stocked on store shelves end up reaching their “best-by” dates before they can be bought by consumers. Therefore most stores will toss this food into their dumpsters since most people won’t buy a food product if it is passed its sell-by date.
But Rauch sees this as terribly wasteful, considering that the majority of this food is still perfectly edible. After all, the sell-by date on food items is meant to inform the consumer of freshness, rather than edibility. Based on that simple premise, Rauch has developed the idea of a grocery store that sells yesterday’s food waste as a low-cost alternative for lower-income families.
All of the food offered at the proposed grocery store, currently called the “Urban Food Initiative”, will emphasize a healthy diet. Some of the offerings will include lighter foods such as stews, soups, and salads. Rauch also plans to host cooking events where customers can learn how to quickly cook meals that are also nutritious. Rauch believes that the Urban Food Initiative will help reduce the millions of tons of food that trash haulers dispose of every year; as well as provide affordable and healthy food for people who cannot afford upscale food retailers.
Rauch currently plans to open his first store in Dorchester, the largest neighborhood in the city of Boston. If customers start flocking to this location, the Urban Food Initiative could open up new locations outside of Massachusetts within the next few years.