Five of the UK’s largest grocery retailers have given the green light to a new ‘chill to freeze’ innovation designed to reduce food waste and get quality surplus produce into the hands of low-income shoppers who need it most.

The industry-first initiative designed by Company Shop, the UK’s largest distributor of surplus stock, will see chilled surplus groceries from The Co-op Group, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Iceland and Aldi blast frozen at Company Shop’s storage facility and then sold as frozen produce.

Goods are then sold via Company Shop’s network of six member-only Community Shop retail outlets for around 50% of the RRP to shoppers on welfare support.

Company Shop has secured Primary Authority assured advice for the new processes and controls.

“This innovative capability provides supply chain partners with an additional redistribution solution following the government’s updated Resources & Waste Strategy, which states that redistribution should be the first option for surplus food in the Food Waste Hierarchy – a development which Company Shop has always championed,” said Company Shop’s senior client manager Joanna Holland.

The company is also “at an advanced stage with other major brand owners” to implement the chill to freeze innovation too.

“Company Shop handled 70 million food and household items in 2018 to prevent them from going to waste,” Holland added.

Chill to freeze will enhance our capabilities so that we can take even more surplus stock and help ensure it gets used for the purpose it was originally intended for.”