New initiatives on food justice, Fairtrade, plastic waste from Co-op Group

The retailer has organised livestreams of Your Local Pantry cookalongs with Big Zuu, in place of the traditional Christmas ad

The Co-op Group has made a series of announcements of initiatives on plastic waste, food poverty and Fairtrade.

The initiatives follow the recent partnership with Crowdfunder to offer match funding to local causes which have received support from the Group’s Local Community Fund. 

They include the decision to forgo the traditional Christmas TV ad campaign; the Group ia instead hosting a live stream from Your Local Pantry, to highlight community food initiatives.

TV chef and rapper Big Zuu will bring the Local Peckham Pantry community together, to host a live cookalong, with special guests, members and volunteers

The Group is partnering with Your Local Pantry to bring 150 more UK neighbourhoods together around food and support 32,000 households manage finances over the next three years.

Big Zuu said: “Everyone deserves access to great quality food at affordable prices. I hope that by visiting the Peckham Pantry and cooking up some healthy, tasty and more affordable meals with the team, more people in need will seek out community initiatives like Your Local Pantry.”

Related: Co-op Group and its charity sign pledge to act on youth empowerment

On Fairtrade, the Group has launched two new lines through Ever Ground coffee brand, first launched in 2020.

Ever Ground initially offered 100% Fairtrade hot drink drinks from vending machines in Group stores. The two new coffee lines – Whole Bean and Ground Coffee – are also 100% Fairtrade and are available across Co-op and Nisa stores. They are packet coffee for home brewing rather than vending machines.

Own-brand planning manager Grace Bowker said: “Our customers and members have already really resonated with our new brand as it not only makes delicious coffee, but the range is sourced on Fairtrade terms which means standing with farmers for fairness and equality, in countries such as Ethiopia, Brazil and Colombia.”

The new duo follows the introduction of two chilled ready to drink Ever Ground coffee lines, which launched exclusively to festival-goers this summer before being rolled out to stores. The Ever Ground Latte (250ml) and Oat Latte (250ml) are available in selected stores across the UK.

Kerrina Thorogood, commercial director, Fairtrade Foundation, said: “This new line provides the perfect blend of fairer prices and investment for hardworking coffee-growing communities so they can continue to produce quality beans and look after their natural environment.”

On the issue of plastic waste, the Group is launching a trial to uncover the number of its own-brand plastic bottles that are being recycled to to help benchmark future recycling rates for the industry.

It is working with Polytag – a technology business that enables a circular economy for packaging – to collect recycling data that will showcase the exact number of Co-op bottles that are being sorted at recycling centres.

It will add a UV invisible code to the label of one of its best-selling own-brand spring water lines, which will allow the recycling centre taking part in the trial to collect real-time data.

Matt Hood, MD of Co-op Food, said:  “This new trial will enable Co-op to gather valuable insight to provide guidance and measurement for future initiatives to encourage more people to recycle and it will also support the industry with true benchmarks for recycling rates in the UK for the very first time.”

The Group has also committed to ommitted to removing coloured milk bottle caps. Colour contaminaiton makes it harder for materials to be recycled into food-grade packaging.