The Co-operative Food plans to slash wastage and support disadvantaged people by donating a million meals to food charities in 2016.

Warehouse depot surplus foods including yoghurt, meat, fruit and ready meals, will be diverted from anaerobic digestion plants and given to the charity FareShare.

The products will then be passed on to various charities and community groups who will transform it into nutritious meals for vulnerable people.

It follows a successful trial at The Co-operative Food’s depot in Castlewood, Derbyshire.

In 10 weeks The Co-operative redistributed 32 tonnes of food from one depot, contributing towards 76,192 meals. The business estimates that in 2016 it could provide 500 tonnes from all depots – enough food for over a million meals.

Steve Murrells, retail chief executive at The Co-operative Food, said: “This project has the capacity to improve the variety and nutritional value of the food redistributed by the Co-op, and to significantly increase the number of people that FareShare can support.

“In addition to the huge human benefit there are significant positive environmental impacts as all of this food will be diverted from anaerobic digestion back into the food chain, feeding people first as was intended.

“Only a tiny percentage of total food waste – around 1.3% – comes from the grocery retail industry, but we are committed to reducing this. We are very grateful to all the suppliers that have agreed to support this initiative.”

Dr Richard Swannell, director of sustainable food systems at the charity WRAP, said: “We are delighted to see the progress The Co-operative Food has made in redistributing quality food from across its supply chain.

“No-one wants to see perfectly edible food in the bin when it can be used to feed people, that’s much better for society, the environment and the economy.”