Company Shop Group Secures Landmark Government Funding to Tackle Food Waste

08 May 2019

Company Shop Group, the UK’s largest commercial redistributor of surplus food and household products, has today been awarded nearly £2million (£1,960,575) worth of funding as part of Defra’s commitment to significantly reduce the amount of food unnecessarily going to waste in England.

The Group, which comprises of commercial redistribution business Company Shop and social enterprise Community Shop, will use the funding to support its new Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus project, aided by the creation of a new, specialist team of surplus intervention experts.
 
The Group’s trailblazing project is aimed at rescuing, re-purposing and redistributing the harder to reach surplus from higher up the supply chain. It will provide a solution that no other redistributor can, addressing the complex interventions necessary. This is valuable surplus stock that has not been redistributed, until now, due to the cost and complexity of accessing it.
 
The harder to reach surplus requires a more intensive intervention, which the Group has the five decades of experience, expertise and technical infrastructure to achieve.
 
The specialist team will spend the majority of their time working in manufacturing sites, alongside the internal manufacturing teams, to identify and provide practicable solutions for food safe product. Due to some barriers – be they financial, operational or other – these products are currently being identified as “waste” instead of valuable “surplus”.
 
Company Shop Group already handled more than 70 million surplus items in 2018 alone. With this additional funding, the Group can widen its reach and maximise its value which will enable it to:
 
  • Deliver positive environmental impact through reduction of unnecessary food waste. 
  • Provide a greater financial return to the manufacturing industry for their products.
  • Generate an even greater level of positive social impact for the Group’s members who access the food – many of whom are on low-incomes and live in disadvantaged communities.
  • The profits of food sales from this project will all be invested into social enterprise, Community Shop, to continue to expand its award-winning social impact.
 
Alongside the team of specialists and the invaluable support already provided by the Group to the industry, the fund will also go towards the production of a suite of awareness raising assets to influence and educate manufacturers about the possibilities and values of redistributing hard to reach surplus. It will also see the roll out of toolkits across the supply chain to increase the redistribution of this surplus.
 
Speaking about the Company Shop Group’s funding award, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:
 
“Food waste is unnecessary and morally unforgivable. We must end it, and our £15 million fund is a true game-changer in making that happen.
 
“I am thrilled that this first round of funding will allow these terrific projects to redistribute even more perfectly good food, making sure it ends up where it belongs - on people’s plates and stomachs.”
 
Commenting on the announcement, Jane Marren, Company Shop Group Managing Director, said:
 
“We are delighted to be one of the redistribution organisations selected by Defra, to receive this landmark funding for our Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus project. This funding represents a significant step forward by the Government in recognising the importance of investing in a range of surplus redistribution options to reduce food waste. There is no one size fits all approach to the food waste challenge.
 
“The grant will bolster our half century of experience, technical infrastructure and capabilities, trusted industry partnerships, and sustainable business model. Through this project, we will now be redistributing even more surplus food to reach people in need, with the impact and legacy of our project being felt way beyond the lifetime of the fund.
 
“We look forward to working closely with industry to identify and unlock the value of more of their surplus stock.”
 
An example of one collaboration, which Company Shop Group will begin to explore as a result of the Defra funding, is to see how they can work with British food manufacturer Samworth Brothers, to seek new, additional solutions to the surplus created in the process of producing sandwiches.  There will always be component ingredients leftover at the end of a sandwich production run and Company Shop will work with Samworth Brothers to look at further ways that this product can be packaged up and used for other purposes.
 
Speaking about the potential in this partnership, Deborah Carlin, Head of Responsible Business at Samworth Brothers said:
 
“We are committed to reducing waste and ensuring that as much as possible of the food we produce gets eaten.  
 
“We welcome the opportunity and resources unlocked by this funding, which will help us work with Company Shop Group to work on further ways to address the more difficult surplus that arises in sustainable, creative and cost-effective ways.”
 
The launch of the Harnessing Harder to Reach Surplus project, following the Government’s announcement today, comes after another hugely successful milestone for the Group, having been awarded its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise in five years, just last month. The Group was praised for its sustainable development and commercial success, whilst delivering positive economic, environmental and social benefits to society.
 
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs invited food redistribution organisations to apply for the first £5 million round of funding, under a multi-million pound pilot scheme to reduce food waste. This funding allocation is the first part of a £15 million scheme to specifically address surplus food in retail and manufacturing – overcoming financial barriers to redistribution.

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