Tim Hortons joins app that reduces restaurant food waste, saves money


An iconic Canadian fast-food restaurant is signing on to Too Good To Go, an app that sells surplus food at a discount in an effort to reduce waste.

As part of a national launch Wednesday, more than 200 Tim Hortons locations were added to the app’s list of partners.

“Our first fully national rollout is with Tim Hortons,” said Sarah Soteroff, Too Good To Go spokesperson. “We’re launching first in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

“That’s really exciting because we love those markets (and it’s) amazing to give them something new and fun. And obviously Tim Hortons is one of the most well-known Canadian brands. It’s known the world over.

“It’s so closely tied to the food that we eat here and sort of our national identity.”

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The app was created in Copenhagen in 2016. It launched in Canada in July 2021 and now has about 7,000 partners nationally. To date, more than 2.5 million meals have been saved.

“We connect, via the app, businesses with food — so anything from grocery stores, convenience stores, high-end restaurants — directly to consumers to purchase that food at a discounted cost, which helps the stores recoup some of the revenue they would otherwise lose by throwing out that food, and helps consumers get great food at a lower cost,” Soteroff said.

“Everyone then does their part to help reduce the harmful impacts of food waste on the environment.”

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Since coming to Alberta in spring 2022, 612 food partners have signed up and about 100,000 users have registered.

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“That has equated to about $1.9 million in savings thus far for consumers and $667,000 worth of earnings for partners,” Soteroff said.

Adding hundreds of Tim Hortons locations will be a huge boost to the app and its users.

“We’re also launching some new 7-11 locations too. You’re seeing everything from convenience store items to high-end restaurants, fast food like Tim Hortons, baked goods,” Soteroff said.

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Tim Hortons will start by offering surplus TimBits and donuts at a discount and will later expand it to all baked goods.

“If you think of a Tims example, even just one store, think about how much stuff is in that case,” Soteroff said. “There’s always surplus. What we really love is that they’ve chosen to work with us to lower that. In the past, they had no mechanism for getting rid of that food.

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“Any food that’s prepared on site that day cannot be sold again the next day. So any time there’s food that’s been made in the morning — like with the donuts … super rigorous standards for how fresh that food is,” Soteroff said.

“We need to be thinking more sustainably and consciously at every single level about what that looks like from a consumer basis. Consumers are just as responsible for reducing waste as businesses are.”

Soteroff says Too Good To Go is really happy Tims has signed on. She also thinks the franchise’s participation will encourage other restaurants and stores to join.

Interested businesses can head to toogoodtogo.ca, click “for business,” enter some basic information and a representative will contact them.

The app runs in the language your phone uses.

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While the initial goal was to reduce food waste, Soteroff says the cost-saving feature has been attractive to consumers, especially with inflation and the cost of living rising in the years since the app launched.

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“In the course of those two years, we’ve seen food costs increase 11 per cent year-over-year. Just recently, thankfully, they’ve gone down to about seven per cent. But that’s still really high when you’re thinking about daily items that you need to purchase.

Globally, we waste about 40 per cent of the food we produce. In Canada we waste 58 per cent, which is huge,” Soteroff said.

“We’re a huge country, we’re spread out. But we’re a relatively wealthy country. We have access to tonnes of food at different times. We have great trade patterns.

“Access to food isn’t usually the issue. The issue is really just overbuying, bulk buying and then not getting to that food before it turns, and you can’t consume it anymore.”

Environmentally conscious and economically savvy shoppers can search for meal deals by location, store name or type of food.

“Individuals — you and me — download the app, put in their location, they see all the available bags to save that day. There are dots on the map that showcase what bags are available to save. And then you physically go to those restaurants or stores in the (time) window that’s indicated by the store,” she explained.

“I like to search on the map so I can see what’s close to me… You can search by name. You can search by category. You can search by pickup window… I think the easiest thing is to favourite the ones you want to frequent.”

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