Co-op project in Leicester cuts food waste by 40% and creates over 5,000 meals for people in need

An ambitious pilot designed to redirect unsold food from Central England Co-operative stores to local charities has seen food waste cut by 40 per cent and over 5,000 meals created for people in need.

Central England Co-op teamed up with FareShare East Midlands to launch a trial in nine stores across Leicestershire aimed at reducing waste and helping out good causes.

The project has seen best before food items and non-food goods that cannot be sold collected by colleagues from the Society’s Food Distribution Centre, in Leicester, and then distributed to FareShare to send out to over 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.

Hannah Gallimore, Central England Co-operative Corporate Responsibility Manager, 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.
“We linked up with long-term partner FareShare to launch a pilot in nine stores across Leicester that has seen best before products collected up and delivered to the charity for redistribution.

“The pilot has been a major success with enough food collected to create over 5,000 meals for great projects such as community kitchens, breakfast clubs and hostels and helping us to cut food waste by 40 %.

“The pilot was also unique as we believe it is the first of its kind to use an existing distribution network to collect items and then deliver them to charity.

“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.

“This will help us minimise food waste and our impact on the environment but, most importantly, help make a real difference for people in need.”

The results of this pilot project will now be analysed to help form part of a strategy to tackle food waste across the Society going forward.

Simone Connolly, FareShare Director, 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.

“We hope that this pilot is just the start and FareShare and Central England Co-op can continue to work together to make a difference in the future.”


Notes to editors


Picture caption: Representatives from Central England Co-op and FareShare come together to celebrate the success of the pilot project.


About Central England Co-operative


Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 


It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, and property investment.


Central England Co-operative has over 400 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2018.


Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports a number of charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.


Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing or visiting


For more information visit, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook:


Rob Smyth / Heather Clapton at Central England Co-operative on 01543 414140


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