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Food Surplus

As part of our 100 Plan A commitments, we’ve set ourselves a big challenge on food surplus - our target is to reduce food waste by 20% by 2020. 

Our key priority at M&S is to reduce food waste occurring in the first place whilst ensuring that, where there is food surplus, we put it to the best possible use, and we’re working extremely hard across all areas of our business – farmers, suppliers, distributors and stores – on a shared goal of minimising the amount of M&S food that goes unsold.

Rather than just reducing our food waste, we’ve made sure we’re making the most of this surplus. Our in-depth work on food waste has shown that there is a demand for food surplus, and through extensive research and trials we’ve found that we can donate more unsold food to the community by working with charity partners local to our stores. 

Since April 2016, all of our owned stores have been set up to redistribute unsold food to their local community.  

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Stores are now regularly redistributing products to over 500 different charities such as food banks, community centres, community cafés and hospices across the UK. We are able to support with fruit, vegetables, bakery items and grocery items like pasta, cereal and cooking sauces.

You can find out what charities your local store is supporting by visiting the store’s page on neighbourly.com.

Using neighbourly’s website provides a simple process for food charities to register and receive food from their local store. The site enables M&S to centrally monitor what products are resulting in surplus and how this can be reduced. We believe we are the first major retailer to provide live updates on the number of tonnes of surplus food redistribute, which can be seen on the M&S neighbourly page

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Food charities keen to participate in the redistribution scheme can join neighbourly.com and create a profile for their project.  To find out more, send an email to food@neighbourly.com or telephone 0117 915 1279.

The next phase of this project has been looking at how we can expand the type of food we can redistribute to include chilled items by finding a solution through freezing in store to prove that this could be done in a way that is food safe and legally compliant.  We have successfully trialled this and we are now assessing the viability, scale and opportunity of rolling this out further, and there are a number of factors to work through, but this has the potential to significantly increase the type and amount of unsold food we can redistribute.  

This is just another example of how, together with our customers, we are Sparking Something Good.