Resource Use

Sheffield food waste market provides Christmas supplies to those in need

A pay-as-you-feel supermarket stocked with surplus food from food producers and retailers has been providing essential food for families and those in need in Sheffield across the Christmas holiday.

Sheffield food waste market provides Christmas supplies to those in need
The Sharehouse Market, the UK’s second food surplus supermarket, was opened by the Sheffield branch of the Real Junk Food Project on Christmas Eve, and was also open for four days leading up to New Year’s Eve.

Open to all, the shop provided a range of food for Christmas, including turkeys, geese, fish, a variety of fruit and vegetables and tinned goods, all sourced as surplus food that would otherwise have been wasted from a number of local retailers.

Customers can take up to two bags of shopping from the store each and can pay for the produce on offer with a financial contribution or by volunteering to help out with the shop.

The final opening period of the food waste supermarket, which has been set up on Carlisle Street in the Pitsmoor area of the city, will see its shelves stocked from midday to 4pm all this week (2-8 January).

The Real Junk Food Project is a national charity that supports 80 surplus food cafés across the UK, and in Sheffield a number of food retailers and producers, including M&S, Sainsbury’s, Beanies Wholefoods and Sheffield University, have partnered with the project, which also runs a pay-as-you-feel café in Sheffield all year round.

The donated food has been given to the supermarket after it passed its best-before date (not the use-by dates) or because of over-ordering. The organisers behind the supermarket say that if the trial proves successful, they will be looking to open more permanently in the future.

Sheffield food waste market provides Christmas supplies to those in need
Produce is collected from a range of retailers and food producers
Real Junk Food Project Sheffield Director Rene Meijer told BBC Look North: “Supermarkets are now at least willing to work with us. So, a year ago, we only worked with local businesses and none of the national chains would work with us – now at least some of them are wanting to work with us, and even though there’s still a long way to go, they’re at least starting to address and admit the problem.”

Redistribution initiatives working to turn waste into vital resources

The UK’s first food waste supermarket was set up by the Real Junk Food Project last September in Pudsey, between Bradford and Leeds, and opens from 9am to 5pm every day of the week.

The number of people in the UK using food banks has risen to record levels in the past year, with the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of 400 food banks across the country giving out 1.1 million three-day emergency food supplies in 2015/16, compared to 25,000 in 2008/09.

Despite this, the grocery supply chain in the UK wastes 1.9 million tonnes of food every year, of which 56 per cent (or 1.1 million tonnes) is avoidable, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP). In total, the avoidable food waste created by the grocery sector each year is worth around £1.9 billion.

The Real Junk Food Project supermarkets, or ‘sharehouses’, have been set up to divert this waste to people who can use the food, with the donations creating a sustainable footing for the shops.

More information about the Real Junk Food Project can be found on the charity’s website.

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