M&S to include chilled food in food redistribution scheme
Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced plans to extend its nationwide food redistribution scheme to include chilled food as part of its sustainability strategy ‘Plan A’ target to reduce food waste by 20 per cent by 2020.
The extension will see notoriously difficult to redistribute products such as meats, dairy items, and ready meals included in the existing scheme, launched in October 2015, which connects all M&S stores to local food charities and community groups in order to redistribute surplus food to those in need.
Up to now, M&S has donated 1.25 million meals to 595 food charities across the UK. Adding chilled food to the variety of vegetables, fruit, tinned goods, bread and dry packaged goods will go a long way to helping charities provide a safe and nutritious diet to those who need one.
Redistribution has already started over the last month, with 130 M&S stores sending surplus chilled food to local charities, following a successful pilot carried out in 70 M&S stores around Christmas. The extension of the scheme will be reviewed in May with a view to rolling it out to further stores.
M&S works with socially engaged social network Neighbourly to forge links with local charities, and working with the network has helped M&S to resolve some of the logistical issues of redistributing chilled goods, such as ensuring that charities have suitable refrigeration capabilities for the transportation and storage of chilled foods, as well as adequate hygiene standards.
There is no Plan B
Commenting on the new chilled food donations, Louise Nicholls, Head of Responsible Sourcing, Packaging & Plan A at M&S, said: “Addressing food waste is a key area of focus for M&S and we have been working hard to reduce food waste whilst ensuring that, where there is food surplus, we put it to the best possible use.
“Over the last year our partnership with Neighbourly has allowed us to connect our stores to local food projects and help support our local communities. By extending our food surplus scheme to include chilled food we’ll be able to go even further in helping charities support those in need with safe and nutritious food.”
Nick Davies, Founder of Neighbourly, added: “People often under-estimate how determined companies like Marks & Spencer are to help protect the planet and the communities they serve. For 10 years now the Plan A initiative has guided behind-the scenes efforts to tackle climate change, source sustainably and reduce waste whilst never compromising safety or the customer experience. Their request for help with chilled food is just the latest step in an ambitious journey and Neighbourly is delighted to assist – it’s good for society, good for business and good for the soul."
Redistribution moves forward
The inclusion of chilled foods in M&S’s redistribution scheme is a big step forward in the fight against food waste emanating from supermarkets and food retailers.
M&S is not the only retailer pushing forward with its redistribution scheme, with Tesco at the start of this week (15 May) that the amount of food it redistributed to community schemes in 2016/17 rose by 148 per cent to 5,700 tonnes, despite total food waste generated increasing by 9.3 per cent to 46,684 tonnes.
Tesco CEO Dave Lewis is a leading advocate of the global fight against food waste and the store expects to double the total amount of food donated through its Community Food Connection programme to 11,700 tonnes in 2017/18.
Despite high profile action by the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S, MPs are calling on other supermarkets to step up and do more, with Parliament’s Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee calling for retailers to be forced to publish their food waste figures in a report released last month, with only Tesco and Sainsbury’s doing so in 2015/16.