The supermarket chain will remove fresh foods with a use-by or best-before date for that day two hours ahead of closing time, before redistributing them.

Co-op estimates that it can help charities and small community groups to create almost eight million meals each year. The scheme will be rolled out across its 2,500 retail outlets by the end of the year, following a successful trial in 50 of its stores.  

“At the Co-op, we want to strengthen and support communities and we are committed to tacking food waste and ensuring food gets into the hands of those who need it most,” Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells said.  “We work hard to reduce waste but believe any food that we don’t sell should end up feeding people, wherever possible.”

Flexible system

Murrells added that the company’s charity partners and community groups – including London-based hunger relief organisation City Harvest – have told Co-op that they need greater access to meat, salads, fruit and vegetables to create nutritious meals.

“Creating a flexible system to allow charities access to surplus meat, salads and fruit and vegetables means more good food can help to meet the growing demand out in the community,” City Harvest chief executive Laura Winningham added. “Often, charities like ours are inundated with bread and bakery items but what we desperately need, to be able to provide people nutritious hearty meals, is a wider range of fresh produce.”

The scheme, which will be launched this Saturday, builds on the Co-op’s existing commitments to tackle food waste issues. The chain has been working with charity FareShare to redistribute food from its depots since 2013 and estimates this partnership has provided enough food for more than three million meals.

The supermarket is also a signatory of WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment 2025, and last year launched a scheme that allows shoppers to purchase tinned and dried food items past their best-before date for as little as 10p.

Co-op at edie Live

Co-op’s environment manager Iain Ferguson will appear on the Resource Efficiency theatre at edie Live to discuss the need for innovation and collaboration to catalyse change across the packaging supply chain to drive sustainability.

Running between 22 – 23 May 2018, edie Live plans to show delegates how they can achieve their Mission Possible. Through the lens of energy, resources, the built environment, mobility and business leadership an array of expert speakers will be on hand to inspire delegates to achieve a sustainable future. For more information click here.

Sarah George

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