Courtauld Commitment signatories aim to double food redistribution output

Signatories of the flagship Courtauld Commitment have unveiled a new ambition to double the amount of surplus food that is redistributed across the UK, while supermarket chain Waitrose has agreed to a new surplus food redistribution trial with social enterprise charity FareShare.

WRAP’s Courtauld Commitment sets an ambitious voluntary agreement, encapsulating retailers, producers and consumers, to reduce food waste by 20% by 2025. As part of the Commitment, signatories have the option to double surplus food redistributions – measured against a 2015 baseline – to prevent 30,000 tonnes of food going to waste within the next five years.

Potentially able to generate £60m a year through the voluntary drive, more than 60 million additional meals could be generated and retailers have already taken steps to accelerate this movement.

The most recent agreement occurred this week, with Waitrose set to trial Fareshare’s FoodCloud platform in order to slash at food waste figures, and redistribute unsold, surplus food to local charities.

The trial will originally take place in 25 Waitrose branches, and could be expanded to all UK Waitrose stores in the next 12 months, depending on the success of the scheme. Waitrose is only the second food retailer to collaborate with FareShare through the FoodCloud platform, after Tesco signed up to the scheme in 2015.

Under the trial, FareShare will ensure that charity groups benefitting from the scheme are able to collect store and prepare food in a safe manner to vulnerable communities.

“This will help food get to those who need it quickly and make a real difference in helping feed vulnerable people,” Waitrose’s head of sustainability Tor Harris said. “Reducing food waste is a top priority for us, as is supporting local communities, and this trial will help our branches focus their resources even more effectively. We look forward to evaluating the success of the trial.”

As one of the founding signatories to the Courtauld Commitment – which has saved major UK brands £100m in food waste costs – Waitrose has decided to train all branch employees on food waste reduction, which the Fareshare Food Cloud platform will be a part of.

Feeding the five million

The partnership was announced just days after Tesco reached a landmark moment in its partnership with FareShare. Under the Community Food Connection, which was launched in February last year, Tesco has helped serve five million meals to more than 3,300 community groups.

Tesco helped introduce the innovative FoodCloud app, and will continue to utilise it as part of a target to ensure no food “safe for human consumption” goes to waste at Tesco UK operations by the end of 2017.

The scheme is currently embedded at more than 900 Tesco stores and, following a nationwide rollout, will soon be available in 1,800 stores.

The retail sector isn’t neglecting its food waste responsibilities. Sainsbury’s is investing £1m to trial new food waste projects in towns across the UK, while many supermarkets have introduced specific ‘wonky’ ranges in an effort to drive consumer behaviour change.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has already embarked on a redistribution scheme of its own. Since 2015, M&S has provided 730,000 meals to 520 charities and community groups across the UK as part of a partnership with social network Neighbourly.

Alongside the town projects, Sainsbury’s has piloted “Food Waste Hero” projects. The scheme has seen 10,000 food items shared between neighbours in the last six months. Asda is also a partner of FareShare’s, although not through the FoodCloud initiative, and has streamlined methods to divert food with less than three days of shelf life to distribution centres.

WRAP also revealed that it is working to increase the number of signatories of the Commitment, while also agreeing to launch a dedicated Redistribution Module in 2017 to enhance staff engagement.

The Courtauld Commitment also impacts the hospitality sector, and is currently developing materials and insights geared towards the uptake of best practice. These will be released as part of a new campaign this year, and will be piloted across 10 cities.

Matt Mace

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