He notes Circle K Surprise Bags rated higher than the app’s average bag rating. Surprise Bags can include everything from baked goods, wraps and pastries to snacks and grocery essentials, like canned goods and condiments. “Couche-Tard has ensured each bag has a good variety and value,” says Kashani of its stellar rating.
The Montreal pilot comes after Couche-Tard successfully partnered with Too Good to Go at stores in Norway in 2017, and then four years later in Denmark (where the app was founded in 2015). Since then, almost 500,000 meals have been redeemed by customers in the Scandinavian countries, the company reports.
“Collaborations with Too Good to Go, and companies like it in other markets, have turned out really well,” says Helena Winberg, Couche-Tard’s director of global sustainability. “We want food that we sell to get to a customer who can eat it, because that’s what it was prepared for in the first place.”
Food rescue initiatives also support those feeling the pinch of inflation. “We’re enabling people to buy food at a lower price,” Winberg notes.
7-Eleven Canada has also been piloting Too Good to Go at select Vancouver and Toronto stores. “Our pilot has already saved food with nearly 7,000 Surprise Bags,” says Kashani. The initiative has had such a positive impact, the partnership is set to expand nationwide around the end of April
[Read more: "7-Eleven Canada and Too Good To Go expand partnership"]
“Consumer demand is a primary motivator in the move toward an increase of convenience stores with sustainable practices,” says Kashani. “We also know that food waste is widespread at the convenience level, and providing them with an effective, simple means to reduce the cost and waste typical for most stores is hugely beneficial.”
That includes for independents like Carl’s Convenience in Oakville, Ont., a roughly 400-sq.-ft store which carries grocery items like milk, eggs and bread in addition to the usual staples. Owner Carl Gernhaelder is a chef, who previously worked at Rabba Fine Foods, and prepares deviled eggs, salads and homemade beef stew fresh for his store.
Carl’s Convenience has been on the app for about a year and a half, charging $5 for $15 worth (or more) of food nearing their “best before” date.
“When we first teamed up, there was so much excess, I did three bags a day for about two or three months, saving all this food from potentially being wasted,” he says. “Now I do one or two bags a day.”
“It helps me regulate the store and keep everything fresh,” adds Gernhaelder.
Rather than throw out expired milk, for example, as he sometimes had to do, “I can put that milk in a Surprise Bag. Some people’s eyes light up when they see that is in the bag.” The same for bananas. “I could sell a whole whack of bananas, then the rest would sit for days. Now when they get really yellow, they go in the bags, and I no longer lose money on them. It has allowed me to carry a lot more fruit and vegetables.”
Under his arrangement, Too Good to Go takes a cut of roughly $1.25 per $5 bag and Carl’s Convenience pays about $50 a month to be on the app. He gets his payout quarterly. “It’s usually around $150 to $200,” he says.
It’s a financial incentive to go along with the feel-good factor of saving food from going to waste.