LIVERMORE, Calif. (NBC, KYMA/KECY) - Some shoppers are now paying less for groceries with the help of a San Francisco startup company, and one family, who has utilized the resource, shares their experience.
Meet the Travia family in Livermore, California. Jennifer and Nick. Plus, three kids: Daniel, Jonah, and Emma.
Keeping five bellies full quickly empties the Travia wallet. Especially these days.
"Prices have definitely gone up...Overall, the trend is... up," Jennifer expressed.
She's right. Grocery prices have spiked with no sign food costs are going back down. So, Jennifer and Nick shop smart.
"I always shop the sale," Jennifer explained.
Recently, the Travias tried something new to find bargains: Salvage food shopping, and Jennifer says she's saving a lot.
"At least half of what it would cost in the grocery store," Jennifer remarked.
Jennifer uses Martie.com.
"Martie is an online discount store. We work with vendors and food producers. We take everything that is overstock, closeouts, surplus, and we sell it in an online store at 30-to-70% off to consumers...I started this company when I was a new mom," said Louise Fritjofsson, Co-Founder of Martie in San Francisco.
With her co-founder in Los Angeles, Kari, they set out to help fellow west coasters save. Two years later, they've opened a new, centrally-located Texas warehouse and are taking Martie nationwide.
"In general, there's enough food to go around. It's the going around that's the issue. And that's where Martie comes in," Fritjofsson detailed.
"Sad for humans; sad for environment"
By trucks, trains and planes, food crisscrosses our country, rarely just "farm to table."
Most food ships from farm to plant, to warehouse, to store to table, and, a surprising amount of grub detours to a dead end, like a landfill.
"Sadly, in this country, I think the number is 30-to-40% of the food we grow and produce does not actually go to people. Which is sad for humans; it's sad for the environment," said Paul Schiefer, President of Amy's Kitchen in Santa Rosa.
What's made at Amy's Kitchen ships to supermarkets coast-to-coast. Amy's has shelf space in 43,000 grocery stores.
"We also happen to have, like a lot of food companies, a certain amount of food that we have a hard time selling through our traditional retail networks," Schiefer added.
Issues in logisitics
After these meals are made, logistics can go sideways. Issues like: Distribution delays, cancelled orders, or printing kinks.
"There are other times where we have to label something specifically for an international market for something unique. Then, for whatever reason that changes, now the product is great food but in the wrong label for what the market needs, and that's another example of the food we want to get to people, and isn't wasted."Paul Schiefer, President of Amy's Kitchen
Enter Martie. It buys that food, advertises it online, then ships to your doorstep the non-perishables that food producers can't ship to stores. Think of its texas warehouse as a 40,000 square foot grocery clearance rack. It's literally tons of salvage food that Fritjofsson insists is safe to eat.
"You will not find products on Martie that are past their 'Best Before' date," Fritjofsson revealed.
Fritjofsson said lots of families, hungry for food bargains, are finding Martie.
"Tens of thousands of families are using our service. Our average shopper spends $60 and saves $54," Fritjofsson further shared.
To find food for cheap, there is a price to pay: your time. Shipping takes a few days. However, it's free when you spend $50 or more. Another caveat: inventory shifts daily. So, some treasure hunting is required.
"We switch out products often. Once it's gone, it's gone. And that adds to the treasure hunt experience. When you're shopping," Fritjofsson explained.
Case in point: Say your grocery list includes peanut butter or almond butter.
"We can't guarantee you that we'll have the same nut butter this week as next. But we can guarantee you that we have a nut butter and it's going to be 50% off," Fritjofsson revealed.
Martie's prices was fact-checked against identical items in local grocery stores. They did check out.
However, some stuff was tougher to compare as there are some specialty and regional brands for sale, from other parts of the country, that aren't sold locally.
Some long-standing brick and mortar stores, like "Grocery Outlet," specialize in food overstock as well. Fritjofsson concedes those regional stores win on instant access.
Still, she contends Martie is the only national grocery discounter completely online.
"We are just changing how liquidation is done," Fritjofsson declared.
Salvaging the family grocery budget
Back in Livermore, the Travia trio's on the receiving end of this liquidation innovation.
"What you see on the site is what comes to your door," Jennifer revealed.
Jennifer's sold on what she sees as a win-win: Cutting her food spending and cutting food waste.
"I think it's great that we're saving things from going in the trash that's still good," Jennifer shared.
Salvage food. Salvaging the family grocery budget.