The Co-op Group’s ethical campaigns were highlighted at this week’s Grocer Gold Awards, where it won in two categories.
It won Business Initiative of the Year for its efforts to fight food poverty during the Covid-19 pandemic – following on from the Group’s success in the same category last year for its campaign to tackle violence and abuse against shop workers.
And its work to broaden its range of plant-based food saw its vegan line, GRO, win own label range of the year. GRO, launched in January 2020, features more than 30 products, including burgers, sausages and ready meals.
The Group’s high profile campaign on food poverty saw it donate £1.5m of stock in 2020, to food distribution charity FareShare, along with over £250,000 from its coronavirus fund.
The retailer was also a founding member of the Child Food Poverty Task Force, led by campaigner Marcus Rashford MBE, and it topped up the value of the government’s Healthy Start vouchers by adding £1 to every voucher spent. It provided an additional 6,000 children with free school meal vouchers within its own Co-op Academy schools.
To help those forced to self-isolate during the pandemic, the Group set up a Community Shopping Scheme to make it easier for those at home to pay for and get their essentials delivered, benefitting over 11,000 customers.
Its summer picnic range raised £1.5m, helping the National Emergencies Trust and UK Community Foundations to provide support to those who need it most. The funding was distributed to grass-root groups providing access to food, such as Gloucester Foodbank and Newsham and New Delaval Youth Forum.
The Co-op Campaigns Team tweeted: “There is a reason @coopuk has won this award two years in succession … it’s because we are a business that enriches communities rather than extracting wealth from them.”
And public affairs director Paul Gerrard tweeted: “Part of @coopuk uniqueness is we speak up on issues that matter to our members. So I’m proud our peers recognise this with our campaigns winning the Grocer Golds Business Initiative of the Year Awards in 2020 for shop-worker violence AND 2021 for food poverty.”
There was also a success for Waitrose, part of the worker-owned John Lewis Partnership, which won the Grocer 33 Customer Service Award, judged through by mystery shoppers.