Boris banks on social supermarkets to reduce food waste

London could be set for a wave of 'social supermarkets' that reduce food waste by selling surplus stock at much lower prices than the high street, thanks to £300,000 of new funding from Mayor Boris Johnson.

Boroughs across the capital can apply for a share of the fund, which will go towards the development of pilot supermarkets aimed at local families on lower incomes, in a bid to tackle the rising problem of food poverty.

“I want to see more innovative schemes on our high streets that tackle food waste, help communities and offer access to a variety of good standard cheaper food,” Johnson said.

Community Shop

To make the announcement, the Mayor paid a visit to London’s first social supermarket – Community Shop in Lambeth. The store, which works on a membership basis for people on income support, sells residual stock that would be thrown away by major retailers for up to 70% less than the original price.

Johnson added: “Community Shop’s range of training and skills services make it a hugely positive resource. My funding will help boroughs kick start similar ‘social supermarket’ ventures that can really help local people on tight budgets.”

More than 4.1 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK grocery retail supply chain each year. Residual food is safe, in-date and edible but often not used by major retailers for a variety of reasons, such as faulty packaging, over-ordering, or being ‘misshapen’.

This latest batch of funding comes from the Mayor’s High Street Fund – a £129m investment that has already improved 56 high streets across the capital and attracted £56m of match funding from public and private sector partners, aimed specifically at helping London’s high streets to adapt and thrive.


Another way the Mayor is tackling the problem is through the successful FoodSave scheme, which has so far helped more than 200 SMEs to prevent food waste and put surplus to good use. Since its launch at the end of 2013, the scheme has generated collected savings of £582,000 and diverted 1,000 tonned of food waste from landfill.

“I’m immensely proud that small cafes and restaurants have managed to stop 1,000 tonnes of food being wasted by strategically diverting their surplus stock with help from my FoodSave scheme,” Johnson added. “It’s important we continue to reduce London’s landfill and ensure quality edible food is not discarded.”

FoodSave is run by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and Sustain, and funded by the Mayor of London. It urges all food businesses to use the online resources available to reduce their food waste and continue the practices of the programme.

Luke Nicholls

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