Co-op has announced that it will start donating surplus food which is about to reach its sell by date, instead of putting it on “last minute” sale.
In its latest sustainability drive, the grocer has pledged to take all items with a use by date of the same day off its shelves two hours before closing time and distribute it to charities and community groups across the country.
Following a successful trial of the Food Share scheme across 50 stores, the retailer has pledged to roll it out across its entire 2500 store network, spanning 1500 towns and cities.
The surplus food will be handed to food redistribution charities who will freeze it or turn it into roughly eight million meals a year.
This will ensure the charities, which are often given large quantities of bread and baked goods, receive fresher, healthier food.
“It’s unbelievable that over a third of the food produced around the world goes to waste,” said Co-op chief executive Steve Murrells, who will launch the scheme this weekend.
“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.
“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.”
City Harvest chief executive Laura Winningham added: “We’ve helped trial the scheme and we are thrilled to see the programme roll out across the rest of the UK.
“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.”