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Robert Scott chats with Shawn Thomas
Robert Scott chats with Shawn Thomas, the owner of BargainMe
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Kiwi startup 'BargainMe' sells short-dated food products for cheaper and helps avoid wastage

"We've made a small impact, saved around 5 to 6 tonnes of food over the last seven months."
4 November 2022 8:22PM

Cantabrians have been extremely lucky with an alternative grocery shopping place in Christchuch, where one can find products for so much cheaper than supermarkets. 

The store "BargainMe" opened by Shawn Thomas, sells short-dated and end of line products. 

The goal of this food outlet store is to provide cheap, cost effective products to the community. 

Not only is this great for Kiwis at this moment with cost of living crisis but it's also amazing for the environment. 

It's a win-win situation.

The Kantar New Zealand Food Waste Survey, April 2022,  showed that every year over 100,000 tonnes of perfectly good food is wasted. 

The store since it's launch seven months ago has helped many families put food on the table and have avoided wastage of food.

The company has saved about 5-6 tons of food from going to waste in the last seven months and continues to do so.  

Robert Scott chatted with Shawn, and asked him about how he had come about with this genius idea of opening BargainMe

"Last year I spent a fair bit of time with my father. He's in the foodservice business. He's been there for quite some time and he was telling me about a fair bit of pallets just being thrown out, dumped away and, you know, just, I guess thrown to landfill."

"And I asked him, why isn't anyone doing anything about this? And he said, well, you know, it's easy to throw it away. Costs a lot to throw it away., but just easy." 

"No one really wants this kind of product, a little bit of damage here and there. Still great to eat, but no one really wants it."

No supermarkets or restaurants want to keep these "damaged" products to sell as they don't trust it. However, this was how the idea sparked for him. 

"No retailer wants to keep it in the shelf or no restaurant wants it because they don't really trust it. So I was like, man, there's a real opportunity here. So I took that opportunity to start BargainMe. We store short dated, end of line damaged goods".

When someone says "damaged good" it may come off as "not consumable" but it's not that, it's more like a dent on the packaging and so on.

"It's a can with a little bit of a dent or it's a can with a little bit of a scratch, a family pack, a pie with the cardboard packaging, just got a little crease or a little bit of broken edge to it that just won't go on the supermarket shelves. But because no one wants it, it either gets completely thrown out or just donated somewhere or there's no real account for it. So I think that was where the idea came from," Shawn said. 

Robert Scott asked him how much cheaper were the products at his store compared to the other supermarkets.

Shawn gave an example of an ice cream to give an idea on how cheaper it is.

The most popular brand of New Zealand ice cream would cost aroun $7.60 or $7.90 at th supermarkets. But at BargainMe you can grab it for $4.99.

The family pies are also $5.99 compared to $8.99 at other supermarkets and may also be around $13 for more premium brands. 

The store also sells frozen cheese for a great deal of $5 for a block of nearly 750 grams. 

" So we freeze our cheese. Cheese comes in short dated - still great to eat, freeze it and we sell it for $5 for nearly 750 grams."

"That's a lot cheaper" Robert Scott said. 

"Yeah so that's the kind of proposition"

"This is the first seven months, we're slowly getting you know the we're not fully a big functional sort of supermarket yet but we're a startup and we've made a small impact, saved around 5 to 6 tonnes of food over the last seven months."

And, you know, that's just building and building. And we're getting more and more supply saying, "Look, we're going to chuck  this out tomorrow. Can you take all of that?" And we say, yes," Shawn said.

This is absolutely fantastic!

Great work Shawn and team! We hope BargainMe opens in more cities around the country.

Watch the interview above.