Grocery Retailer Longo’s Partners with ‘Too Good To Go’ to Reduce Food Waste [Interview]

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Too Good To Go, the world’s largest marketplace for surplus food, has partnered with the Longo’s grocery chain to accelerate their mission to reduce food waste across Ontario and across the planet.

All 36 Longo’s grocery stores are part of the initiative.

“Longo’s is leading the way, showing the importance of major retailers to take the issue of food waste as seriously as the problem demands,” said Sam Kashani, Too Good To Go Country Manager. “As the largest Canadian grocery store to join us in the fight against food waste, Longo’s joins more than 165,000 businesses across the world who have pledged to be part of the solution. We’re thrilled to partner with them and know that they will have a measurable impact on the future of food waste reduction in Canada.

“We connect consumers and stores that have surplus food at the end of the day. Users can essentially fire up our app and go to their local neighbourhood and then reserve what we call a surprise bag. And the surprise bag is essentially surplus food that the establishment and food store has left for the end of the day. Users reserve it and then go in during a defined pickup window and pick up that surplus food for one-third of the cost.

Image: Too Good to Go x Longo’s

“Why it’s worked in Canada and really around the world is because it’s super simple and it’s win, win, win. Users win because they get perfectly healthy, delicious food for one-third of the price. The businesses win because they get to drive incremental traffic to their stores but also drive incremental revenue for food that they otherwise would have thrown out which was ultimately surplus to them. And we’re a social impact company. We save food from being thrown out and we’re ultimately helping to reduce food waste which is where the planet wins on our overall mission to help eliminate and reduce food waste.

Sam Kashani

“Longo’s is a wonderful partner. I think they have bold ambitions around their diversion plans and around their sustainability agenda. And we are one of many partners to be able to help them achieve that and ultimately we’re helping rescue any surplus food that they have across their 36 locations on a daily basis. It’s a wonderful partnership with Longo’s and Anthony Longo and his team in really bringing that to life and making sure they are on that mission and ambition to get to zero waste.”

Too Good To Go, a certified B Corp, was founded in 2016 and says it has saved more than 158 million meals from more than 165,000 partners in 17 countries. 

The company’s global headquarters is in Copenhagen, Denmark with its Canadian base in Toronto and regional offices in Vancouver and Montreal.

Image: Too Good to Go x Longo’s

Longo’s is a family-operated Canadian business that started in 1956 when three brothers, Tommy, Joe and Gus, opened their first fruit market. It operates stores in communities across Toronto and the GTA, as well as Grocery Gateway, the leader in online sales of home-delivered groceries.

Anthony Longo

“Food waste is a global issue that cannot be ignored. Too Good to Go is an incredible organization working to be a part of the solution,” said Anthony Longo, President and CEO of Longo’s. “Partnering with Too Good To Go supports our goals to reduce emissions, contributes to our bold zero waste ambitions, and gets us closer to achieving our goal of reaching 90 per cent landfill diversion by 2025.

“Longo’s is committed to reducing our environmental impact and partnering with like-minded organizations like Too Good To Go helps us to move closer to achieving our sustainability goals. We strive to give our guests and team members the best experience possible, and try to set an example in our industry to highlight the importance of fighting food waste and reducing carbon emissions for a happier and healthier planet.

Image: Too Good to Go x Longo’s

“Longo’s and Too Good To Go’s missions are akin to each other. We are both committed to identifying sustainable solutions to reduce food waste, which is a significant problem in Canada – Canadians waste the equivalent of $1,800 of food per year. Our partnership with Too Good To Go allows us and our guests to be a part of the solution. Purchasing a surprise bag saves the equivalent of 2.5 kilograms of CO2 emissions, lowering their carbon footprint; and we can all feel good about that.”

In its recent 2021 Sustainability Report, the grocery chain identified key pillars to fulfill Longo’s purpose and mission, of which Environmental Stewardship is one, added Longo.

“We’re committed to achieving those goals including diverting 95 per cent of waste from landfills by 2025. Our partnership with Too Good To Go can play a critical role in getting us there,” he said.

“Reducing food waste has always been top of mind as a grocery retailer because we recognize it can help us dramatically reduce our environmental impact.  In addition to Too Good To Go, Longo’s operates several programs to keep the food in our stores from going to waste. As an example, we are able to transform our products into ingredients for multiple uses. And, in 2021, we are proud that we diverted more than 71 per cent of waste from landfill by donating more than 203,000 kilograms of surplus food from our stores to organizations in need and sponsoring a community food waste reduction pilot project in Guelph.” 

Image: Too Good to Go x Longo’s

Kashani said his mission is around democratizing the fight against food waste.

“So anywhere, in any establishment, whether a single, family-owned business or a national chain with thousands of stores, is on our platform and we’re working with them,” he said. 

“Anywhere that there is food we ultimately work with them . . . and across verticals, retail, restaurants, hotels that certainly have food, canteens and cafeterias, etc, etc.”

He said currently Too Good To Go has more than 3,400 businesses on its platform.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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