Central England Co-op store

UK retailer Central England Co-operative has cut its food waste by 40 per cent over the last three years after improving ordering processes and rolling out a new redistribution scheme.

The group, which operates over 240 food stores across 16 counties in the Midlands, announced today (18 May) that its food waste levels dropped from 2,445 tonnes in 2017 to 1,085 tonnes in 2020.

Central England Co-op said the reduction was achieved by improving ordering processes and as a result of its 'pioneering food redistribution partnership' with FareShare Midlands, which allows the retailer to ensure 100 per cent of its best-before products are handed out to hundreds of local good causes.

Luke Olly, the group's energy and environment lead, said: “We are proud that our hard work to reduce food waste has had such an impact over the past three years.

“We continue to refine and improve our current processes, as well as looking at rolling out new ones, to ensure we carry on with our efforts to continue to reduce our levels of food waste, something that is vitally important as a responsible retailer.”

Central England Co-op's work with FareShare Midlands to redistribute food has resulted in the delivery of over two million meals for those in need during the pandemic, the retailer revealed.

Hannah Gallimore, Central England Co-op corporate responsibility manager, said: “We are extremely proud of our long-standing relationship with FareShare Midlands and the life-changing impact we have been able to have over the past few years of working together.”

The food redistribution project sees all best before food items and non-food goods that cannot be sold taken to the Society’s Food Distribution Centre, in Leicester, where it is then delivered to FareShare who send them to support dozens of local charities all year round.

Simone Connolly, FareShare Midlands director, said: “With 2020 being such a strenuous year for most people and​ organisations, including FareShare Midlands, we are extremely grateful for the continuous support that Central England Co-op give to our operation across the region. With their support we have been able to supply a record-breaking amount of quality surplus food to those who have struggled due to the pandemic.'

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its 7,800 colleagues serve customers across 400 plus trading sites in 16 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.