Central England Co-op launches scheme to donate unused food to charity groups

The Central England Co-op and FareShare come together to celebrate the roll-out of the food redistri

The Central England Co-op and FareShare come together to celebrate the roll-out of the food redistribution project, which has been extended across Norfolk and Suffolk. Picture: Central England Co-op. - Credit: Archant

A scheme to cut supermarket food waste is to be rolled out across Norfolk and Suffolk after a successful pilot.

Charities and community groups benefit from unsold produce from the Central England Co-op, which has become the latest supermarket chain to crack down on wasted food.

The new initiative follows the East of England Co-op's launch last year of a programme to sell food still edible after its best-before date, in response to mounting customer worries over the amount of food being sent to landfill.

Under the Central England Co-op's plans, its leftover food and non-food goods will be collected by FareShare East Midlands to be handed to good causes using the supermarket's existing distribution network.

Those involved in the project are predicting that the scheme will help cut food waste by at least 40% and provide over one million meals per year to vulnerable people.

Hannah Gallimore, Central England Co-operative corporate responsibility manager, said: 'Food waste is a topic customers and colleagues regularly talk to us about and it is an area that has always been at the forefront of plans at the society.

'We have been looking for a solution to this issue for many years and are now proud to be able to reveal our plan to tackle food waste in a manner that also has a major impact for our communities and our partners.'

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A nine-store trial in the East Midlands saw enough for 12,000 meals taken to those in need, leading to a group-wide roll-out.

Ms Gallimore added: 'The process behind it is all based around ensuring that the food is sorted, collected and sent out to partners as quickly as possible to ensure that it gets to the people who need it when they need it – ranging from community kitchens to breakfast clubs and hostels.'

The pilot and subsequent rollout of the project was made possible thanks to a change in national guidelines related to best before products.

The Central England Co-op has more than 400 outlets across 16 counties in the East and Midlands, including Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

Though it is aiming to cut food waste by 40% initially, the retailer has a long-term target of driving the figure up to 100%.