Co-op to fight waste by diverting food to community groups

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Supermarket chain Co-op is launching a new scheme in the UK to reduce food waste by putting an end to last-minute sales.

Instead, food that is within its sell-by date will be offered to local community groups and charities to help people in need.

The scheme will be unrolled throughout the country in 1,500 locations where the food retailer operates. This follows a successful trial scheme in 50 branches which showed the idea was workable.

The new programme, called Co-op Food Share, will be launched by the group’s Chief Executive Steve Murrells at the annual general meeting this week.

Mr Murrells said the supermarket was “calling time on food waste” and will take products off sale earlier so that fresh food could be used by charities.

“We work hard to reduce waste but believe any food that we don’t sell should end up feeding people, wherever possible. We’ve been listening to our charity partners and community groups and they tell us that in order to create healthy and nutritious meals they need access to fresh food. Now we are making that possible.”

Laura Winningham, CEO of food charity City Harvest said: “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. It’s great to think that organisations like ours, all over the country, will be able to build strong working relationships with their local Co-op stores which will deliver immeasurable amounts of benefit to those most in need.”

The move forms part of Co-op’s work as a signatory to the Courtauld Commitment 2025, which aims to halve food waste by 2030, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Rival supermarket Aldi also made the pledge earlier this year.

Photo Credit: Co-op

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