Sainsbury's are working in partnership to redistribute surplus food in our value chain

Working in partnership to redistribute surplus food in our value chain

 In recent years there has been an increased demand for redistributed food across the UK. Food redistribution takes food that would have ended up in waste directly to people in need, relieving food insecurities for many individuals across the UK. Sainsbury’s is encouraging and making it easier for own label suppliers to reduce food waste surplus and increase redistribution by inviting them to look openly at how, working together with our food donation partners, we can reduce food waste. We’re evolving our guidance in order to make it simpler to redistribute any Sainsbury’s own-label products, ensuring we’re not creating barriers to suppliers redistributing surplus food in a way that best fits them.

Our food waste commitment

Around a third of all food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted, accounting for 8-10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Within the value chain, we know that 16 per cent of food waste is produced during primary production, equating to 66 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by food waste, whilst 15 per cent of food waste is produced in the manufacturing and logistics process before it enters stores and households. As a responsible retailer, we are working collaboratively across our value chain in order to reduce food waste from farm to fork and improve the lives of surrounding communities. 

We recently launched Plan for Better, our new sustainability plan with ambitious commitments and targets across all of our pillars. As part of this plan we remain committed to reduce food waste across the value chain by 50 per cent by 2030, aligning with Courtauld 2030 and Champions 12.3. We aim to reduce or put as much of our waste as possible to good use, prioritising prevention and redistribution where possible.

Our own operational achievements during 2020 include:

•    16% reduction in food waste sent to anaerobic digestion year on year
•    Zero waste to landfill since 2013
•    24 million meals funded with our £3 million commitment to FareShare during the pandemic

Working in collaboration with WRAP

WRAP works with governments, businesses, and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency. Delivering systemic changes across supply chains, looking at the entire life cycle of products and services helping organisations to use resources more sustainably. 

We have been members of WRAP’s Food Waste Reduction Roadmap since 2018. We actively encourage our suppliers to participate in this initiative and are pleased to have seen an increase in supplier participation over the past year. We are now aligning with WRAP’s Best Practice on Redistributing Own-Label Products Within the Supply Chain, which identifies how a more consistent approach can be taken to the redistribution of surplus retailer own-label food from supply chain businesses. By adopting this approach, we aim to increase the amount of own-label food available for redistribution for human consumption. 


What are we asking our suppliers to do? 

We are asking our own label suppliers to review and align with WRAP’s guidance on own-label products and redistribute surplus own-label food.  

In order to support increased redistribution, we are evolving our current guidelines to include more food donation partners, authorising suppliers to redistribute any Sainsbury’s own-label products to any one of our six chosen food donation partners. Giving suppliers free reign and no barriers to how they choose to reduce food waste surplus. 

 Who are our approved food donation partners?

FareShare is the UK’s national network of charitable food redistributors, taking good quality surplus food from across the food industry and sending it to more than 10,500 frontline charities and community groups. FareShare helped 10,542 charities and community groups in 2020 and 1,108,064 people were provided food.

General enquiries email: enquiries@fareshare.org.uk

Giving Food email: foodoffers@fareshare.org.uk

Company Shop Group redistributor of surplus food and household products. Surplus is either distributed to one of their community shops or activated where products that cannot be donated are used through company shop stores who sell the products and credit full value. Trusted by all major retailers in 2020 the Company Shop Group handled over 80 million items, including 28,073 tonnes of surplus.

Membership email: membership@companyshop.co.uk
Tel: 01226 747 121 (Mon-Fri 9:00am to 5:30pm)

Surplus Enquiries email: surplus@companyshop.co.uk
Tel: 0800 211 84 84

HIS Church provide ethical, sustainable, charitable solutions for surplus food, clothes and supplies, including toys, personal hygiene products, household / domestic cleaning items and over the counter medicines. HIS possess a full transport and logistics infrastructure. HIS currently distribute over 200,000 meals a week, both directly and through a network of around 15,000 Charitable organisations who help people in need. These include Foodbanks, Homeless Outreaches, Children’s Charities, Cancer Support Charities, Women’s Aid Refuges, Refugee Support Charities, Schools and Football Club Community Trusts.

General enquiries email: enquiries@hischurch.org.uk

Giving Food email: hisfood@hischurch.org.uk

The Bread and Butter Thing focus on the relief of poverty premiums in low-income families working closely with different suppliers collecting donated surplus food. Then safely and effectively redistributing the surplus through their network of members, via our food hubs and partners.

General enquiries - hello@breadandbutterthing.org

Giving Food email - offers@breadandbutterthing.org

City Harvest London rescue quality surplus food from retailers and manufacturers delivering the free food to 350+ charities across greater London. City Harvest makes it simple for food businesses to donate their nutritious food to desperate people, eliminate surplus food collection costs and prevent climate change. With 22 million meals delivered and over 8,000 tonnes of surplus food rescued.

General enquiries: info@cityharvest.org.uk

Giving Food email: food@cityharvest.org.uk


The Felix Project is London's largest food redistribution charity. They rescue good food that cannot be sold and deliver it direct to almost 1000 charities and schools serving people in need. Their vision is a London where no one goes hungry and good food is never wasted. In 2020, The Felix Project delivered 21.1 million meals.

General enquiries: supply@thefelixproject.org

Giving food: supply@thefelixproject.org

These six organisations have met our internal review and have the right procedure in place to successfully manage food surplus redistribution. If you have any questions about this new approach, please discuss with your Sainsbury’s contact so we can work together to create the best plan of action. Furthermore, if you would like to request to work with a different redistribution partner, please contact community.affairs@sainsburys.co.uk.

What else are we doing to reduce food waste?

To minimise food waste as much as possible we follow a waste hierarchy, and aim to reduce or prevent waste where possible, prioritising redistribution of surplus food to people followed by animals. 

We have recently launched a trial with Neighbourly, providing us with a tech solution to support the management and link of surplus food from our stores to our food donation partners. This partnership will help us to increase the amount of food we donate to charities and community groups, and following a successful trial, we plan to roll out the Neighbourly platform to all of our supermarkets over the next few months.

Where we can’t donate surplus food to charity, we send surplus food to UK farms, via our partners, to form an ingredient in animal feed. We’ve been sending surplus bread for use in animal feed since 2013 and during 2020, 7,932 tonnes of surplus bread was used for animal feed. This year we have evolved this approach to include unsold fruit, vegetables and salad which we were unable to donate to charity. More information can be found here.

Further information

For more information on our approach to food waste and progress on our 50 per cent reduction by 2030 target, please visit our Food Waste page on our corporate website. Further guidance and information can also be found on our Food Waste page on our Plan for Better portal.

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