Cancel OK

Save-On-Foods: Steeped in history and shining bright

save on foods exterior

The Overwaitea Food Group got its start in 1915 when Robert C. Kidd opened an eponymously named store, R.C. Kidd, in New Westminster, British Columbia.

After garnering success, when it came time to open his second grocery location, Kidd called it “Overwaitea,” a name coming from the founder’s practice of selling “overweight tea”—18 ounces of tea for the price of 16.

Although the quirky Overwaitea name no longer appears on any stores, with all having transitioned to Save-On-Foods BB #:153831, the practice of delivering value to consumers and communities remains a focal point.


While its name may no longer elicit chuckles or confusion, its current incarnation is a serious competitor in the grocery realm.

“Save-On-Foods is a very strong independent grocer and now a decent-sized chain for Canada,” confirms Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University School of Public Administration in Halifax, NS.

With more than 185 stores, not to mention its position within the Jim Pattison Group conglomerate, Charlebois believes Save-On-Foods has just about outgrown the independent label.

As a full-service, midsized retailer, Save-On-Foods Limited Partnership competes with the likes of Sobeys (especially the latter’s Safeway stores in Western Canada) and some Loblaws banners (which in this region include Real Canadian Superstore, City Market, Your Independent Grocer, and No Frills).

There are also regional chains such as Georgia Main Food Group (and its IGA and Fresh St. Market banners), as well as independents, and of course Walmart and Costco, major players in Western Canada.

“Save-On-Foods’ strategy is very much about clicking most of the boxes,” Charlebois comments. “It’s not trying to stir the pot with food trends.”

“It’s all about execution,” adds David Karwacki, CEO at The Star Group BB #:134817 in Saskatoon, SK, owner of Star Produce Ltd., BC Hot House Foods Inc., Sliced FC, and Consolidated Fruit Packers. “Save-On-Foods has proven to be very strong on the execution side.”

This is an excerpt from the March/April 2023 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine’s Canada Supplement. Click here to read the whole supplement.