fare share

General Mills pushes on

Sir, The Grocer is to be highly commended for creating a campaign that we believe will encourage food and drink companies to do even more to tackle unwanted waste (‘Our New Campaign - Waste Not Want Not,’ The Grocer, 21 May).

Wrap’s report is right to highlight that much could be done to reduce waste even further. However, let’s not forget the great work that is already being done throughout the industry, including by companies like ours in conjunction with partners like the food redistribution charity FareShare. General Mills UK is recognised as one of FareShare’s leading supporters and we plan to develop the partnership. Even with the best stock management system in place, there will inevitably be a certain proportion of products with a short shelf life that cannot be sold to customers, and to make best use of this surplus stock, we have a process in place to redistribute to FareShare on a monthly basis food that cannot find a commercial outlet. This effort has been thoroughly worthwhile to ensure that no good food goes to waste, and - as per your campaign aims - we are passionate that this food should be used to feed people first.

So far in 2016 we have provided enough surplus food to make 32,000 meals for vulnerable people, and since our partnership with FareShare began three years ago the food we have supplied equates to nearly 100,000 meals.

However, there is no room for complacency, and The food we have redistributed in 2016 is already three times as much as we sent in all of 2015. We hope this kind of commitment provides the evidence you require to demonstrate what a great job many companies are already doing in reducing waste, and how we are committed to taking even greater strides in line with your campaign aims

Jonathan Bennett, external relations head, General Mills UK

This retro works for me

Sir, When I was growing up, my gran used to regale me with tales of our family links to the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. So I have mixed feelings about the resuscitation of the Co-op’s cloverleaf logo. The MD in me of a design consultancy that designs for supermarkets says there’s no way I would have resurrected that. The ex-graphic designer in me says I would have brought that baby right back out of retirement. The new blue is brilliant - a huge improvement on that old insipid blue reminiscent of gran’s 70s cookbooks; grey, dirty and dull. I’m not a romanticist, but given the recent turbulent history of the Co-op, give me the past any time.

Tony Lock, MD, Sherlock Studio

Getting reconnected

Sir, The Co-op rebrand the latest sign of a major shift in the supermarket arena. The brand’s decision to revert back to its origins, resurrecting - albeit modernising - its 1968 logo, is a clear attempt to re-engage an audience for whom loyalty is meaning less and less. The new look is a clear message that the brand is focused on its original mission to provide customers with value and choice in a crowded sector. It’s also a clever nod to the fact that despite expanding its name to ‘cooperative’ in recent years, to its consumers, the Co-op has always remained the Co-op. Going back to the ‘barcall’ name is a clear acknowledgement that the needs of the customer are the driving force for this rebrand. This effort to re-engage with its audience is no surprise, given the rapidly changing competitive environment the Co-op sits in. With the rise of discounter brands such as Aldi and Lidl continuing at a consistent rate, even the big four are feeling the pressure to innovate and compete to stay in the game. Adding to this pressure is that news that Aldi and Lidl have huge expansion plans for the coming months and years, so the fight to stay relevant and competitive will only increase in intensity Creating an engaging presence and a memorable brand will help it to make meaningful connections with consumers. It’s these core values and how brands reinforce them that will determine who will come out on top in this space.

John-Paul Hunter, creative director, Webb deVlam

Trading up in oils

Sir, I thoroughly enjoyed your piece on oils (Focus on Oils, 21 May) and at Belazu we welcome the trend towards premiumisation. It would appear that mainstream extra virgin olive oil is not providing what consumers want and what the retailers need. The like for like rate of sale of our Belazu Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil (rsp: £7.99) has grown 26.8% by volume sales in the past year, remarkable when it has been on the market for over 15 years. Once consumers trade up, they rarely trade back down. We welcome trend towards premiumisation within the oil category and hope that consumers and retailers continue to seek out authenticity and quality.

Peter Oden, commercial director, Belazu

Well done for waste campaign

Sir, it was encouraging to see the launch of your food waste campaign to help reduce the amount of products that are thrown away every year. Clearly, a number of positive steps have already been taken, including utilising the UK’s food charities. We’re also seeing some retailers beginning to introduce new technology that enables them to reduce the number of errors that result in food perishing along the supply chain, be it in DCs or on the shelves themselves. Real time, actionable data is allowing staff to manage stock more efficiently, which is reducing instances where products are sitting on shelves beyond their sell-by dates and improving the chances that a consumer will purchase the item. I hope your campaign drives retailers to continue the work they’ve started, and that it is the catalyst to improve future in-store and supply chain operations.

Neville Payne, Vice President Merchandise Availability Solutions UK

Cutting waste has to be a priority

Sir,I fully support your campaign to reduce food waste in the grocery sector (Waste Not Want Not, 21 May p24-29). Reducing the amount of avoidable food waste must be the ultimate priority and it’s fantastic to see so many celebs lending public support to ‘wonky veg’ campaigns. The greater issue is that some components of food waste simply cannot be reused, such as tea bags and banana skins. This is unavoidable food waste.

For this reason, we will never achieve zero food waste. The biggest impact, for those trying to reduce the effect of food waste on the environment, is to ensure it is segregated from the other waste streams, such as cardboard and plastics. This is the best way to minimise the impact on the environment. Segregation also reduces costs and, in our experience, customers never go back to mixing their waste streams after realising the cost saving. I hope that this campaign helps reduce the thousands of tonnes of non-essential food waste that are created every year. But I also believe that raised awareness of food waste segregation, which allows it to go to anaerobic digestion plants, must likewise be championed.

Paul Killoughery, Managing Director, Bio Collectors