Social supermarket launches in London

Shopping Bascket Super Market

Community Shop, trialled in South Yorkshire, will sell surplus food and drink to members for up to 70% less than high street

The UK’s first full-scale social supermarket starts its national rollout on Monday, selling surplus food and drink to people on the verge of food poverty for up to 70% less than high street prices.

The first Community Shop, in West Norwood, south London, is backed by the mayor, Boris Johnson, and Rosie Boycott, chair of the London Food Board, which helped find its premises. Its launch – with a further 20 in the pipeline across the UK – follows the success of a pilot scheme in Goldthorpe, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, which opened a year ago.

The model was highlighted in a report last week by an all-party parliamentary inquiry as one that should be developed to “make a real and positive difference to people’s living standards”.

Community Shop will work on a membership basis, each involving 750 members all living locally and on income support. Members can shop for surplus food from leading supermarkets and brands including Marks & Spencer, Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, the Co-operative, Ocado, Innocent, Brake Brothers, Nestlé and Müller.

It is estimated that around 3.5m tonnes of food is wasted each year in the UK before it reaches shopping baskets, of which about 10% is good enough to be eaten but is rejected because of damaged packaging or mislabelling. Community Shop is a subsidiary of Company Shop, a commercial redistributor of surplus food and goods.

John Marren, chairman of Company Shop Group, said: “Community Shop is tackling the problem of surplus food while giving it real social purpose. Not only do we offer high-quality, low-cost food to people experiencing tough times, but we provide them with the chance to take up support services because they are motivated to do better.”

Tristram Stuart, founder of the environmental campaign organisation Feedback, said: “Like those behind Community Shop, I have seen the huge amounts of food wasted every single day in Britain – before it even reaches people’s shopping baskets. We must all do more if we are to change our attitude to wasting food, and the pioneering Community Shop project is leading by example by tackling the problem of surplus food by giving it social purpose.”

Powered by article was written by Rebecca Smithers, consumer affairs correspondent, for The Guardian on Monday 15th December 2014 00.05 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010