Central England Co-op has cut food waste by 40% in a trial running in nine stores across Leicestershire aimed at reducing waste and supporting good causes.

The project, in partnership with FareShare East Midlands, has seen best before food and non-food goods that cannot be sold collected by colleagues from the society’s Food Distribution Centre in Leicester. The items are then distributed to FareShare and sent out to more than 200 local charities across the Midlands.

In just 12 weeks, the trial has resulted in 2,253 kilos being redistributed – the equivalent of 5,365 meals - and a reduction in food waste of 40%.

Central England Co-operative Corporate Responsibility Manager Hannah Gallimore said: “Food waste is a topic customers and colleagues regularly talk to us about and it is an area that has always been at the forefront of plans at the society.

“This is why we came up with a project to try and significantly reduce our food waste and, at the same time, help people in need across our communities. It is our long-term goal that 100 % of best before goods that have not been sold will not be wasted, redistributed and put to use by good causes.”

The results of Central England Co-op’s pilot project are now being analysed to help the society tackle food waste in the future.

FareShare Director Simone Connolly said: “We already receive surplus food from the Central England Co-op’s Food Distribution Centre and were delighted to be approached to support with this trial project.

“We have been very pleased with the results of the trial and have been able to provide over 5,000 meals to people in need as a result. The fruit, bread and cakes were particular favourites for children attending school holiday food programmes during the Easter Holidays.”