Food: unsold, but not unused
In all our shops, we look carefully at what our customers want and we base our range on those criteria. This means that we sell 97.27% of our fresh and frozen food. But what can we do with the vegetables and fruit for example which are left over, but are still perfectly edible? Everything but throw them away. At Colruyt Group, as far as possible, we find a practical use for the surplus from our supermarkets.
Looking after those with less
Food Bank volunteers devote themselves every day to share food between soup kitchens, shelters and other social initiatives who in turn, pass it onto to disadvantaged people. Since 1997, Colruyt Group has been donating unsold products which are still legally saleable to this project. This includes fruit and vegetables, fresh products whose sell by date is exceeded in 4 days, products with slightly damaged packaging, incorrect deliveries from suppliers and left over quality control samples.
We operate according to 2 systems: either the Food Bank collects products from our main distribution centre in Halle, or the shops give their surpluses directly to local organisations under the supervision of the Food Banks. This latter saves us a lot of logistical effort in returning the goods to our distribution centre, while the social organisations receive more fresh fruit and vegetables. For local donations we balance demand and supply. In regions where a lot of food is needed and organisations have the logistics to collect food six days a week, we open shops for collection. In regions where this does not apply, we don’t give locally and more unsold food goes for fermentation. This local collaboration is working smoothly and at the beginning of 2017 we already had 39 shops giving food directly.
‘Colruyt Group always has items we need available and the food is checked, already neatly sorted. So collection is quick and we don't have to take anything we don’t know what to do with,’ says Tony Michiels, deputy director of Food Bank Brussels-Brabant.
In addition to what we donate to Food Banks, there’s also a collection initiative in all our Colruyt shops each year. Customers can make a food parcel donation by using a 2.50 euro or 6 euro voucher at the checkout.
Bread for animals
Staff in our Colruyt and OKay shops separate unsold bread. Our external partner processes the bread into animal feed, which is rich in proteins and carbohydrates, for the Belgian market.
Biomethanisation or recycling as raw material
What about fruit and vegetables that we cannot sell or give away? We have them biomethanized by an external partner. During that process, biogas is released which is converted into electricity. What remains afterwards is dried and used as agricultural fertiliser.
Bones, rinds and fat from our meat processing division go to the biochemical industry. This waste is used as raw material for producing gelatine, biodiesel or cosmetics.
What we can’t biomethanize or recycle in any other way is incinerated with energy recovery.
Ever less incineration
In 2016, we used considerably more food surplus for human consumption: 4.1% as opposed to 2.7% in 2015. This is because, on the one hand, we’re sorting products which are still edible even more efficiently in our shops and distribution centres. On the other hand, even more Colruyt shops are donating food surplus directly to local social organisations.
By the end of 2016, 14 shops had local distribution, amounting to 443 tonnes altogether. And that volume will rise further because, in 2017, we increased the number of participating shops to 39. In addition, the Food Banks themselves collected another 354 tonnes from our distribution centre at our Halle headquarters, giving us a total of 797 tonnes for the whole of 2016. During their annual collection initiative in the shops, our customers donated an additional 234 tonnes.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.