M&S extends its nationwide food redistribution scheme to include chilled food

London, 2017-May-18 — /EPR Retail News/ — Marks & Spencer (M&S) today (17 May 2017) announces the extension of its nationwide food redistribution scheme to include chilled food such as meat, dairy items, poultry and ready meals, as part of its Plan A target of reducing food waste by 20% by 2020.

Launched in October 2015, the existing scheme has helped M&S to connect all its stores* to local food charities and community groups – from soup kitchens for the homeless to community cafés supporting local families with meals. To date M&S has donated 1.25 million meals to 595 food charities across the UK and Northern Ireland. By adding chilled food to the fruit, vegetables, bread, cakes and groceries and dry packaged goods and tins already donated – M&S will play a key role in helping charities feed people in need of a safe, sufficient and nutritious diet.

M&S works in partnership with Neighbourly, the social network for social good, to connect local charities with their local M&S store. The site has allowed M&S to remove some of the main logistical barriers to redistributing chilled food, including ensuring that all those charities registered have refrigeration to transport and store chilled food, as well as having the correct food hygiene credentials in place.

During the last month, 130 M&S stores have begun redistributing surplus chilled food to their local charities. M&S will review the extension at the end of May with a view to roll out to further stores where the charity partner has the approved infrastructure in place. The chilled launch follows a pilot in 70 M&S stores this Christmas which aimed to find the most effective and safe way of redistributing surplus chilled food to ensure it is put to the best possible use.

Commenting on the new chilled food donations, Louise Nicholls, Head of Responsible Sourcing, Packaging & Plan A at M&S said: “Addressing food waste is a key area of focus for M&S and we have been working hard to reduce food waste whilst ensuring that, where there is food surplus, we put it to the best possible use. Over the last year our partnership with Neighbourly has allowed us to connect our stores to local food projects and help support our local communities. By extending our food surplus scheme to include chilled food we’ll be able to go even further in helping charities support those in need with safe and nutritious food.”

Nick Davies, Founder of Neighbourly, added: “People often under-estimate how determined companies like Marks & Spencer are to help protect the planet and the communities they serve. For 10 years now the Plan A initiative has guided behind-the scenes efforts to tackle climate change, source sustainably and reduce waste whilst never compromising safety or the customer experience. Their request for help with chilled food is just the latest step in an ambitious journey and Neighbourly is delighted to assist – it’s good for society, good for business and good for the soul.”

Dr David Moon, Head of Food Sustainability WRAP, said: “WRAP estimates that approximately 47,000 tonnes of surplus food – the equivalent of 90 million meals – is currently being redistributed to feed people in the UK every year. This is a great move by M&S and opens up a new area of surplus food that can go to feed people, rather than potentially being wasted. No food should go to waste when there are options like redistribution, and Courtauld 2025 signatories have responded with a collective ambition to double the amount of surplus food they redistribute by 2020. This move by M&S is a great example of the kind of action that will help make that ambition a reality.”

Further information on how charities can register is available on the M&S page of the Neighbourly website.

Case study – M&S Yeovil   

Through the food surplus redistribution scheme, M&S Yeovil has donated nearly 18,500 meals to Yeovil Community Meals Service which delivers freshly cooked, ready to eat meals for older people in the community, those with mobility problems, dementia or those who are recently home from hospital. Last month, M&S Yeovil added chilled food to the scheme which has seen a 25% rise in the number of meals donated.

About M&S’s approach to food waste:

  • Our primary aim is to reduce the amount of waste we create in the first place
  • We have invested in new stock forecasting and planning systems to improve the accuracy of our food allocation and distribution at our stores;
  • We believe we have the most comprehensive supplier engagement schemes and we are very active in working with our suppliers to ensure they are engaged in:
    • Reducing waste – over 70% are now zero waste to landfill; and
    • Redistributing more – as well as increasing redistribution from our stores, we are working closely with our suppliers to help them redistribute more direct from their depots.
    • We have also increased the volume of short life food products that we sell at a discount to our customers and this process now consistently clears the majority of products that would otherwise have been disposed of.
    • M&S was given advice from Westminster City Council, its primary authority, that it is satisfied with the safety procedures M&S has place for the chilled food donations.
    • Where there is food surplus, we will work with charity partners through the Neighbourly platform to ensure that it is put to the best possible use.
    • Charities that can make use of surplus food items and make regular collections from the back of their local store will need to join neighbourly.com and create a profile for their project. To find out more, send an email to food@neighbourly.com or telephone 0117 917 5317.
    • The Neighbourly platform will enable better connections between customers, communities, suppliers and our own employees.
    • We are also committed to helping our customers reduce their food waste by developing packaging innovations that protect food and keep it fresher for longer.
    • Any surplus left over goes to anaerobic digestion (a process that turns food waste into electricity – some of which is bought back to power M&S stores) – absolutely nothing goes to landfill.
    • For further information, please see the M&S Plan A website

About Plan A 

Plan A is Marks & Spencer’s sustainable business plan that tackles both today’s and tomorrow’s sustainable retail challenges. Launched in 2007, the plan is focused on customer, employee and supplier engagement and includes commitments that tackle issues such as climate change, waste, raw materials, health and being a fair partner.

About Neighbourly 

Neighbourly is an award-winning social platform that matches charities and community projects with people and companies that can help. It uses technology to connect and enable communities, individuals and organisations to help local causes through volunteering, financial and food donations. M&S has partnered with Neighbourly to deliver Spark Something Good, its major Plan A employee and customer volunteering initiative. Visit www.neighbourly.com/ or follow @nbrly

Media enquiries:
M&S Corporate PR
020 8718 1919

Source: Marks & Spencer