Ocado is teaming up with a network of cafes to send surplus food that would have gone to waste straight to charity.
The online supermarket has partnered with ‘Pay As You Feel’ cafes around the UK and will give them orders that are cancelled by Ocado customers after the food has already been picked and packed.
The deal with the Real Junk Food Project is a response to the fact that around one third of the food produced in the world every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets wasted, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The Real Junk Food Project collects food destined to be thrown away and uses it to create meals in its cafes around the UK, where visitors can pay whatever they feel a meal is worth.
Cancelled orders from Ocado – including fresh and packaged food – will be returned to the supermarket’s distribution site and collected every day by the Real Junk Food Project, following on from a trial that began last November.
Since it launched in 2013 the project has received approximately 324.8 tonnes of food in the UK, feeding an estimated 160,218 people with more than 191,964 meals.
One Pay As You Feel cafe in Leeds cafe has measured the produce it has been given so far by weight, finding that the biggest category was fruit and vegetables, followed by dairy products and then meat, fish and eggs.
The partnership will include all of Ocado’s distribution sites and will roll out by the end of this year, initially including cafes in Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Knowsley, Dordon and Crawley.
Suzanne Westlake, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Ocado, said: “We believe we are the first UK retailer to send customer-cancelled orders (including fresh food with products with long sell by dates) straight to charity.”
She said the supermarket was donating to the “worthy” cause to “reduce the large quantity that is thrown away in the UK”.
Adam Smith, founder of The Real Junk Food Project, said the trial partnership had made more people come to its cafes.
“The style and quality of food and the regularity of deliveries we are receiving from Ocado is incredible.”
“The variety of Ocado food that we’ve used to create tasty and healthy meals has attracted more and more customers to the cafés, especially in Leeds.”
He called on other supermarkets and food retailers to “be inspired by the programme to reduce food waste and help fulfil our aim to feed the world”.