Business

Lidl to donate surplus food through Neighbourly app

Supermarket Lidl has become the second major grocery retailer to show its commitment to tackling its food waste by signing up to social platform Neighbourly.

Lidl to donate surplus food through Neighbourly app
Neighbourly uses technology to connect charities and local causes with people and companies that can help through volunteering, financial and food donations. Neighbourly Food, launched in December 2015, is a specialised app that allows businesses including retailers, manufacturers and food distributers to offer their excess food by uploading what’s available, its location and expiry date. Local charities and food banks that have registered with the service for free can then claim what they need and also publicise their food requirements.

Through its partnership with the platform, Lidl stores will be linked to local food projects that can collect excess food directly from the store each day, free of charge. By the end of June 2017, 100 of Lidl’s 640 UK stores plan to be running the programme, with all stores participating by the end of March 2018. The supermarket, expects that surplus donations from its stores will provide two million meals annually to people facing food poverty.

Lidl is the second major supermarket to use Neighbourly. Marks & Spencer launched the use of the network in its stores in October 2015, and in its June 2016 ‘Plan A’ sustainability report noted that its partnership with the network had helped it reduced stores’ food waste by nine per cent. According to its Neighbourly profile page, M&S has so far redistributed 698.13 tonnes of food, resulting in a CO2 saving of 616.24 tonnes.

The supermarket has signed up after a successful eight-week pilot that helped to feed more than 3,400 people across community centres, elderly day care centres, housing support projects and children’s centres in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

“We are very pleased to welcome Lidl to our food surplus donation programme alongside M&S,” commented Nick Davies, Founder of Neighbourly. “Both organisations are fully committed to building meaningful relationships with their communities, and using Neighbourly means that those most in need do not face the additional pressure of having to pay to have food surplus donations delivered. 

“As we’ve seen with the success of our activities to date with M&S and Lidl, if adopted widely, this model could change how the supermarket industry deals with the redistribution of surplus food and provide a more holistic solution for community partners.”

FundAFridge

According to research carried out by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), 15 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year at a cost of £5 billion. UK households contribute the bulk of food waste, with over £12.5 billion worth of food thrown away each year.

The grocery supply chain creates 1.9 million tonnes of food waste, over half of which is avoidable. In a country that is becoming increasingly reliant on food banks (data from the food bank charity the Trussell Trust shows a 4,000 per cent increase on the distribution of emergency food supplies from 2008/09 to 2015/16), the need to cut down on unnecessary waste of consumable food is growing.

Lidl will also be the first retailer to sign up to Neighbourly’s #FundaFridge Campaign, which supports UK food charities by helping them raise funds for a fridge or freezer, allowing them to receive more fresh surplus food and feed more people. The supermarket has donated 100 fridges and freezers to the campaign.

Commenting on the partnership, Daniela Tulip, Lidl UK Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, said: “This new partnership provides a great opportunity for us to make a real positive contribution to the communities that we are in. Crucially, we are able to help improve charities’ ability to safely store through the donation of fridges and freezers, which will increase their capacity to sustainably manage surplus food and, in turn, provide more meals for those who need them.”

Technology providing redistribution solutions

Neighbourly, a certified B-Corp, is just one of the technology solutions that supermarkets are using to find homes for surplus food.

Developed in partnership with redistribution charity FareShare, the Food Cloud app allows stores to notify charities and community groups to how much surplus food they have at the end of each day, with charities being able to say if they want the food and pick it up for free.

Tesco signed up to Food Cloud in 2016 as part of its Tesco Community Food Connection Initiative, and so far the app has been rolled out in 800 UK stores, with plans to expand to all stores by the end of 2017. According to FareShare, the Tesco initiative has provided over five million meals to over 3,500 charities across the UK.

In January 2017, FareShare announced that Waitrose had become the second retailer to sign up to use Food Cloud, trialing the app in 25 stores before expanding over the next 12 months to all UK stores.

You can find out more about Neighbourly’s projects and campaigns on its website

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