What with food surpluses in our stores?
First of all, we try to avoid food surpluses as much as possible. And successfully so. Almost all our fresh food is effectively sold. Anything left on the shelves, is given a useful purpose as much as possible through social organisations, is sold at a reduced price or processed into other products.
Food surplus donations
Unsold fresh food is taken off the shelves 4 days before the sell-by date. This is to guarantee our customers are buying fresh products. We prefer to donate the products to social organisations, which, thanks to the four-day buffer, have enough time to distribute everything. These organisations not only collect goods from our Bio-Planet, Colruyt and OKay stores , but also from our distribution centre in Halle and the Collect&Go picking centres in Erpe-Mere and Londerzeel.
donated food to social organisations in 2021
given to charities in 2020
Which surpluses do we give away?
We give away unsold food products, such as:
- fruit and vegetables
- fresh products that is four days past the sell-by date: milk, yoghurt, prepared meat products, ready meals, fresh meat, fresh fish, etc.
- slightly damaged packaging
- wrong deliveries of suppliers
- leftover samples of our quality division
Every year we donate more
The amount of food donated increases every year. This is mainly because:
- more and more stores deliver their food surpluses directly to local social organisations. We also want to increase the donations for the distribution centres.
- our stores and distribution centres are better at sorting and are therefore able to set aside more edible products.
To whom do we donate?
Food banks has been a privileged partner since 1997. Volunteers of the charity work every day to distribute food to social restaurants, shelters and other social initiatives, which in turn distribute it to people who need it. Other organisations and logistics platforms we work with include Foodsavers in Ghent, the Red Cross and Les Restos Du Cœur across Belgium.
Reduced price sales
Another way to still use unsold food for human consumption is to sell it to the consumer at a cut price. This can be done directly in the store or via digital platforms.
- Fresh, cooled products remain on the shelves one day longer at a reduced price at OKay. The food products are clearly marked on the packaging or in the shelf.
- As partner of Too Good To Go , Bio-Planet, Rose Mary and a number of Spar stores sell their unsold food at a reduced price at the end of the day. Users of the app can check every day whether they can save any surpluses and pick up a package.
From food loss to food gain
In a circular economy, waste equals raw material. Products that cannot be sold or donated are processed into animal feed or used in the biochemical industry. Incineration and fermentation are only the very last steps.
Our Research & Development & Innovation department also researches how we can make new food products from food surpluses. We are currently focusing on our largest residual streams: potatoes, bananas and bread, that can no longer be sold but are still safe to consume. For example, we turn old bread into a subsrate for mushrooms. We're also looking at how we can process bananas into ice cream, breakfast cereals and dried banana slices. But also whether and how we can turn bread waste into spreads or biscuits. To be continued!
Of course, primarily we try to ensure that as little food as possible remains on our shelves. Through well thought-out stock management and optimal storage, for example. That is how we managed to effectively sell almost all our fresh food products in the past year.
of our fresh food products effectively sold in 2020