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Canadians flocking to food rescue apps to reduce grocery bills and waste – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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TORONTO – When Gillian Pulfer picked up roasted sweet potato soup, flank steak and chicken salad from a Toronto Pusateri’s Fine Foods for $10 last weekend, the deal was too good not to brag about.

“It’s a more high-end, luxury grocery store…so most people don’t necessarily have the budget to go shop there, but you’re saving money and you’re getting good food,” said Pulfer.

After chowing down, she let her Instagram followers in on her secret: She found the haul on Too Good to Go. The app is one of many uniting deal-seekers with restaurants and grocers eager to keep aging food that’s still fit for consumption out of the trash in exchange for a small fee.

Users of apps like Too Good To Go, Flashfood, Feedback and Olio say they have paid anywhere from $3 to $10 for prepared lunches or dinners, a week’s worth of vegetables and fruit, several loaves of bread, pastry boxes and even, entire pizzas or cakes.

The savings often go a long way, said Eric Tribe, Flashfood’s chief marketplace officer.

“Over the holidays, we had a father who wrote in and thanked us because he’d been let go from his job due to COVID-19 and he used the money saved on Flashfood to buy stocking stuffers for his kids,” said Tribe.

The app, which is used by supermarket conglomerate Loblaw Corp., was started by Toronto entrepreneur Josh Domingues in 2016, after his chef sister threw out $4,000 of food following a catered event.

The app offers produce, meat, fish, bread, dairy and pantry staples nearing their best before date and often marked down by at least 50 per cent. Some items last for weeks, if frozen or cooked. Others have a day or two left.

Orders are retrieved in supermarkets, which typically mark items nearing their best before dates down or donate them to charities, food banks and farms for animal feed.

But those methods still leave grocers responsible for a quarter of the country’s food waste, so Flashfood targeted that portion exclusively, said Tribe. (The app does not divert food from charities, he added.)

To date, Flashfood has kept more than 13.5 million kilograms of food out of landfills and saved users a collective $90 million.

However, Second Harvest, a charity redistributing unsold items to people in need, estimates that almost 60 per cent or 35.5 million tonnes of food produced in Canada is wasted annually. About 32 per cent or 11.2 million tonnes of that lost food is edible and could be redirected to people in need.

“Some people claim this food waste can be solved by downloading an app,” said Maria Corradini, the Arrell Chair in Food Quality at the University of Guelph.

“That’s probably not true, but of course they can have a contribution to reducing this burden.”

She believes better inventory planning and use of artificial intelligence would go even further to addressing food waste.

Too Good To Go’s country manager for Canada agrees inventory management is key, but said, “matching supply and demand is very complex” and no restaurant wants to produce less only to find it can’t serve late customers.

Too Good To Go mostly deals with restaurants, bakeries, and butchers, but also partners with grocery and convenience stores.

Users of the app, which was founded in Copenhagen in 2016 and expanded to Canada last July, order ahead before fetching items at designated times.

What they pick up is a mystery because businesses sell “surprise bags,” and while some offer hints about their contents, others don’t.

For example, Italian food purveyor Eataly advertises some $8 bags as having charcuterie ingredients, but McEwan Foods, celebrity chef Mark McEwan’s supermarket, shares no clues about its $8 bags.

Toronto bakery Daan Go Cake Lab’s bags have featured cake slices or its famous character macarons. Some simply weren’t sold that day, but others have cracks or blemishes the bakery’s posh clientele wouldn’t accept.

Signing up for Too Good To Go was a no-brainer, said chief operating officer James Canedo.

“As chefs, you never want to see food wasted. It’s almost sacred for us,” he said.

“So many people out there don’t have the same privileges, so for food to be wasted, that is something we’re trying to prevent.”

Corradini lauds those sentiments and said the apps’ waste reduction goals are noble, but there are risks.

While some apps only deal with reputable vendors staffed with employees trained in handling food, others like Olio allow anyone to prepare food at home or sell items they can’t finish.

“I would never go for something that has been opened because you never know what went on there,” Corradini said.

She added that even food from grocers and restaurants should be examined closely before eating and customers should cook, freeze, prepare or consume anything they buy that is due to go off soon very quickly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2022.

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US stocks rally as Fed minutes meet expectations – Al Jazeera English

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Investors fear that overly aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed could tip the economy into recession.

Wall Street closed higher Wednesday, boosted after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting showed policymakers unanimously felt the United States economy was very strong as they grappled with reining in inflation without triggering a recession.

The minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s May meeting, which culminated in a 50-basis-point rise in the Fed funds target rate – the biggest jump in 22 years – showed most of the committee’s members judged that further such rate hikes would “likely be appropriate” at its upcoming June and July meetings.

“The uniformity of opinion is a good thing,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “There’s a lack of uncertainty of what needs to be done in the near term.”

“By the time [the Fed] gets to September, they will have plenty of economic data to make their move from there, so they continue to maintain optionality,” Mayfield added.

All three major US stock indexes gyrated earlier in the day amid increasing jitters stemming from business and consumer surveys, economic data and corporate earnings reports suggesting a cooling American economy – even as the Fed prepares to toss a bucket of cold water on it to tackle decades-high inflation.

Fears that overly aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed could tip the economy into recession despite evidence that inflation peaked in March has driven those concerns.

“There’s some credence to the idea that inflation is doing [the Fed’s] job for them,” Mayfield said. “There’s already a cooling occurring, and financial conditions have tightened over the last month because of dollar strength and equity market weakness.”

On Thursday, the Department of Commerce is due to release its second take on first-quarter GDP, which analysts are expected to show a slightly shallower contraction than the 1.4 percent quarterly annualised drop originally reported.

The Personal Consumption Expenditures report will follow on Friday, which will provide further clues regarding consumer spending and whether inflation peaked in March, as other indicators have suggested.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 191.66 points, or 0.6 percent, to 32,120.28, the S&P 500 gained 37.25 points, or 0.95 percent, to 3,978.73 and the Nasdaq Composite added 170.29 points, or 1.51 percent, to 11,434.74.

Nine of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 rose, with consumer discretionary stocks leading the pack with a gain of 2.8 percent.

Amazon.com Inc and Tesla Inc provided the strongest lift to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, rising 2.6 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively.

Department store operator Nordstrom Inc surged 14.0 percent on the heels of its upbeat annual profit and revenue forecasts.

Fast-food chain Wendy’s Co jumped 9.8 percent after a regulatory filing revealed that shareholder Nelson Peltz was considering a potential takeover bid for the company.

Shares of Nvidia Corp fell more than 8 percent in after-hours trading after the company’s second-quarter revenue forecast missed expectations.

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Gas Up Nearly 4 Cents; Price Freeze Lifts in Labrador – VOCM

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Despite predictions to the contrary, the regulated price of gas is up in most parts of the province.

Gasoline is up by 3.9 cents a litre, except along the coast of Labrador. Diesel on the island is up by 1.3 cents while diesel in Labrador has dropped by 11.6 cents a litre. Furnace oil costs over a cent a litre more on the island while stove oil on the island up by the same amount. Stove oil in Labrador is down by 23.70 cents a litre.

Propane meanwhile is down by just under 2 cents.

The suspension of maximum price adjustments on the coast of Labrador lifts as of today as fuel deliveries resume for the season—that means significant increases, in some cases by about a dollar a litre, for some fuels.

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Cheese not on the table in Canada-U.K. trade talks as Britain seeks market access

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OTTAWA — The British foreign secretary has often been mocked for her preoccupation with cheese. It started eight years ago when Liz Truss expressed outrage in a speech to her party’s annual conference.

“We import two thirds of our cheese,” she raged. “That is a disgrace.”

Now Truss is facing another battle over cheese, this time with Canada.

Britain wants greater access to Canadian markets for more than 700 varieties of cheese including Stilton, Cheshire, and Wensleydale, a crumbly variety originating from Yorkshire.

But Ottawa has made it clear it does not want to see more British cheddar, let alone artisan varieties such as stinking bishop, renegade monk and Hereford hop, on Canadian fridge shelves.

During the first round of negotiations of the U.K.-Canada trade deal, Canada told Britain that a larger quota for British cheese is not on the negotiating table.

When it was a European Union member, Britain was part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, giving it some access to Canada’s cheese market.

After the U.K. left the EU, a “continuity agreement” with Canada was swiftly put in place to maintain the CETA arrangement until a bilateral trade deal could be struck.

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K., said if Britain wants more access to Canadian markets for its cheese as part of a bilateral free-trade agreement, it will have to knock on Brussels’ door and get its part of the dairy quota back.

“The point is we have already provided that volume in the EU deal and the British left it there without taking it with them,” he said in an interview. “That’s an issue they need to resolve with the Europeans because the Europeans have their quota.”

Goodale said the U.K.’s request for extra access for British cheese — on top of the access given to the EU — is “what the Canadian negotiators consider to be pretty much a dead end.”

“You are talking about a double concession — one we have already made to the EU and the request is being made by the U.K. for yet another one on top of that,” he said.

The high commissioner said Canada values its trading relationship with the U.K., adding that he is confident that a mutually-beneficial trade deal will be reached.

But if Canada allows the British to export more of their cheese it would involve “a major commitment of compensation to dairy producers” in Canada to make up for lost incomes.

In 2018, after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement gave the U.S. fresh access to the Canadian dairy market, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would compensate Canadian dairy farmers.

Canada’s dairy industry was worth over $7 billion in 2020, according to the Canadian Dairy Commission’s annual report.

There are over 10,000 dairy farms in Canada — most of them in Quebec and Ontario — with an average of 92 cows per farm, it said.

Until at least the end of next year, Britain will be able to keep exporting its cheese to Canada under the trade continuity agreement, the U.K.’s trade department said.

This allows U.K. cheese exporters to access the Canadian market tariff-free under the EU portion of Canada’s World Trade Organization cheese tariff rate quota.

As part of the 1995 WTO agreement on agriculture, Canada established tariff rate quotas for cheese and other dairy products. The quotas set out quantities of dairy that could enter Canada with little or no duty.

For Britain, a fully fledged free trade deal with Canada is crucial after Brexit left it looking for fresh tariff-free markets.

“We want to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive new agreement with Canada that will strengthen our close and historic bilateral trade relationship,” said a U.K. government trade spokesman in a statement, adding the relationship was worth about $34.5 billion in 2021.

In March, U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan flew to Canada to announce with Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng that bilateral negotiations had officially begun.

In a speech in the House of Lords in London earlier this month, Goodale reported on progress in the talks, saying that “both sides are optimistic that, as good as CETA and the continuity agreement were, we can do better still when Canada and the U.K. negotiate a deal face-to-face, directly with each other.”

Like Goodale, Ng said Canada is confident a free-trade deal with Britain will be reached, enhancing co-operation in a number of areas, including on renewables, sustainability and the digital economy.

“Canada values the relationship with the United Kingdom. They are … an important trading partner and a trade agreement with the U.K. will be very good for Canadian businesses,” she said in a phone interview from Thailand last weekend.

But she was also firm about the need to protect Canada’s dairy producers, and that means keeping more British cheese out.

“I have been very clear, our government has been very clear, that we will not provide access to our supply-managed sector,” she said. “We have been clear about that from the get-go.”

The Canadian dairy sector now produces 1,450 varieties of cheese, including ewe, goat and buffalo varieties, as well as the cheese curds used in the Québécois dish poutine.

At least half of Canada’s cheese is made in Quebec, which is home to a number of artisan varieties including bleu l’ermite, or blue hermit, and Oka, a popular semi-soft rind cheese.

Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, has made it clear he will fiercely protect Canadian cheese from British interlopers.

Lampron said he had “validated that the issue of access to the Canadian dairy market was not on the agenda of these trade talks.”

Canada’s protectionist stance toward its dairy industry may have pleased farmers. But it has caused some tension with close allies.

Earlier this month, New Zealand launched a formal trade dispute against Canada, accusing the federal government of breaking promises to give access for dairy imports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The Biden administration also recently said it was asking for a second dispute settlement panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review a trade dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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