Asda is confident it struck the “right balance” between ensuring Christmas availability and avoiding food waste, despite several of its stores across the country ending up giving away large amount of free Christmas food.
From Boxing Day the supermarket let customers have Christmas vegetables including brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots and broccoli, free of charge, in locations including Sheffield, Newcastle, Leeds and Edinburgh.
Store bosses labelled the food with signs saying ‘Free to a good home!’ or ‘Have this one on us!’,
A spokeswoman for Asda said the decision on whether to give away food had been taken at a “store by store level.”
She added: “We wanted to make sure we had good availability and the key thing for us is that it’s been done on a store by store basis. It’s not as if we have had huge volumes of surplus across the whole estate.
“For us it is important to strike a balance between availability and avoiding food waste.”
Last year Asda announced it was to plough at least £20m into two of the UK’s leading food redistribution charities, FareShare and The Trussell Trust, in what the charities welcomed as an “unprecedented” breakthrough in the battle against food poverty.
The move, aimed at helping a million people, includes the Walmart giant paying for refrigeration equipment for the charities so they can ramp up their redistribution of fresh food.
But the decision to give away free food after Christmas to everyday customers got a mixed reaction on social media.
“Just read that Asda have lots of vegetables and are giving them away in store (free of charge),” said one customer. “I think Asda should be taking them to food banks for the families who really don’t have money and are struggling to feed the children, and not a free for all.
“Not sure I approve of @asda Spondon giving away free (past sell by?) veg on Boxing Day,” added another tweet. “Surely giving it to shelters or food banks on Xmas Eve would have been the right thing to do?
But a happier customer tweeted: “Asda is giving away carrots, parsnips etc. They’ve got shitloads, if anyone is struggling for food there is loads of veg going for free.”