In a bid to help tackle food waste, Co-operative Food is donating surplus goods from its warehouse depots to local charities.
The nationwide programme follows a successful trial at the organisation’s depot in Castlewood, Derbyshire. Over 10 weeks, 32 tonnes of food from Castlewood was diverted away from anaerobic digestion energy plants, and instead contributed towards 76,192 meals.
Co-operative Food will now be supplying a range of chilled food items such as yoghurt, meat, fruit, vegetables and ready meals from all nine of its depots to the charity FareShare, which will pass the food on to other charities and community groups who will transform it into nutritious meals for vulnerable people.
It is estimated that in 2016 the co-operative could donate 500 tonnes of food – enough for over one million meals.
“This project has the capacity to improve the variety and nutritional value of the food redistributed by the Co-op, and to significantly increase the number of people that FareShare can support,” said Steve Murrells, chief executive – retail at Co-operative Food.
“In addition to the huge human benefit there are significant positive environmental impacts as all of this food will be diverted from anaerobic digestion back into the food chain, feeding people first, as was intended.”
Earlier this year France introduced legislation banning supermarkets from destroying unsold food. Countries in the European Union waste 89m tonnes of food each year, with the UK contributing 15m tonnes.
Mr Murrells added: “Only a tiny percentage of total food waste – around 1.3% – comes from the grocery retail industry, but we are committed to reducing this. We are very grateful to all the suppliers that have agreed to support this initiative.”
Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare, said: “It’s been fantastic to see how well the new process has worked at Castlewood, helping to provide thousands of meals to vulnerable people in Yorkshire. By working with their suppliers, staff and FareShare Regional Centres, the Co-operative has demonstrated real commitment to preventing food waste in the long term and to providing edible surplus food to projects supporting vulnerable people across England, Wales and Scotland.”