We’re calling time on food waste today as we announce Co-op Food Share, our food redistribution programme for stores.
After successful trials in 50 branches and a lot of anticipation from colleagues, we’re making it easier for Co-op stores to donate unsold food to local food charities and community partners.
We took time to listen to community groups and local causes to find out how we can make food redistribution work for them. They told us that they wanted greater flexibility to pick up food when it suits them, access to fresh, nutritious food and the freedom to build relationships at a store level and not through a corporate or rigid head office system.
Co-op CEO Steve Murrells, who will share the good news with members at the AGM, said:
“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. We work hard to reduce waste but believe any food that we don’t sell should end up feeding people, wherever possible.”
“It’s unbelievable that over a third of the food produced around the world goes to waste. We’re calling time on food waste and will take products off sale earlier to get fresh food with its use-by date to charities in time for them to cook or freeze.”
As well as bakery, fruit, vegetables and other ‘best before’ items, our community-led model will let stores donate ‘use by’ items such as fresh meat, dairy products, prepared meals and tasty salads, for those partners who are able to collect in the evenings.
The aim is to help groups make use of as much food as possible and allow them to collect from multiple stores, regularly, with flexible collection times.
The programme will be phased in gradually during 2018 to support the 1,500 towns, villages and cities where our 2,500 stores are based.
Co-op Food Share is part of our wider waste reduction strategy. We already manage stock carefully to prevent waste and donate surplus food from depots in partnership with FareShare. We also reduce the price of food close to expiry date and turn unsold food into green energy.
Groups, good causes and charities who can commit to collecting fresh food regularly and provide meals for people in the community on a not-for-profit basis, can now apply online http://www.coop.co.uk/foodshare.
Here’s a short video which explains Food Share.
NOTE FOR OUR STORE COLLEAGUES: We know you can’t watch videos in store, but if you visit this site (colleaguestories.coop.co.uk) on your personal device you can watch them there.
Also check out our blog on food waste here.