5 questions on countering food loss

97.27% of all our fresh and frozen food is sold. How do we do that? In each store we determine exactly what our customers buy and select our product offer accordingly. But what do we do, for example, with fruit and vegetables that remain unsold? Not throw it away, that’s for sure. We give the surpluses from our supermarkets to charities that can use them. For example, social organisations. They deliver it to the less fortunate people in our society.

1. How much food is donated?

In 2017, we managed to use significantly more food surpluses for human consumption: 9.3 %, compared to 4.1 % in 2016. 

This is because:
  • we are becoming increasingly better in sorting edible products in our stores and distribution centres. 
  • more and more stores (Colruyt and Bio-Planet) donate their food surpluses directly to local social organisations.
  • we are developing more cooperation initiatives with other organisations.

In total about 1,529 tonnes of food was collected in the stores by the end of 2017. And this volume will continue to rise, because early 2018 we raised the number of participation Colruyt stores to 50. Bio-Planet also makes donations from all stores. 

And add to that another 427 tonnes of food that was collected directly in our distribution centres. This brings the total to 1,956 tonnes of donated food over the year 2017.

The share of food donated for human consumption rises year after year.

2. Who do we donate to?

We work together with different organisations: 
  • Since 1997, we have been working with the Food Banks as a preferred partner. Every day, volunteers from the Food Banks are dedicated to distribute food to social restaurants, shelters and other social initiatives, which they hand out to people who can really use it. 
  • Other organisations and logistic platforms we work with are Foodsavers in Ghent and Les Restos Du Coeur across Belgium.
The food banks have been a preferred partner for years.

3. What do we donate?

We donate product that can no longer be sold. These include:
  • fruits and vegetables
  • fresh products of which the sell-by date is exceeded 4 days or more
  • slightly damaged packaging
  • wrong deliveries from suppliers 
  • remaining samples from our quality department.

4. How do we go about it?

As efficiently as possible, of course. Because we try to restrict the loss of food to the maximum. That is why:
  • we take the goods out of the shelves 4 days before their sell-by date. This will give customers enough time to consume their purchases.
  • we check and prepare all unsold food products so everything is clearly sorted and ready to be collected. This makes collecting the food much faster.

It is a win-win approach: thanks to the 4 extra days our customers do not have to throw away products at home and our social partners have enough time to distribute everything. Because we handle our donations like that we can do more, as well as higher qualitative donations.

An employee takes food from the shelves to donate.

5. Where can organisations collect the products?

  • In our Colruyt stores: in 2015 we started with a test to donate local food in 3 stores. Early 2018 already 50 stores are participating. The social organisations are now receiving more fresh products such as fruits and vegetables.We try to align the supply and demand. In regions where a lot of food is required and the organisations have the logistics to collect goods six days per week, we open up stores for collection of goods. 
  • In our Bio-Planet stores: all Bio-Planet stores donate to different organisations. As opposed to the Colruyt stores, this is not necessarily every day. 
  • In our distribution centres:
    • Dassenveld in Halle
    • Collect&Go in Erpe Mere and Zaventem
The food bank comes to collect a donation of food at the Dassenveld distribution centre.

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

No proverty Zero hunger Responsible consumption & production