Supermarkets have a role to play in reducing food insecurity. However, it is argued that they need to move away from the current food redistribution model that doesn’t tackle the root causes of food insecurity. Working with a large supermarket chain the project team sought to identify a series of more ethical and sustainable solutions through knowledge exchange.

School for Business and Society research team

The research project

Supermarkets’ reduction schemes has been a growing trend, particularly over the pandemic. Notably, relationships between food charities and supermarkets have become commonplace in the UK, offering scope for investigation. 

Based on knowledge exchange with the supermarket sector, a workshop with food charity practitioners, literature review, and a webinar, the research team identified multiple challenges within the partnerships between supermarkets and food charities. 

An underlying challenge that consistently appeared through the project was that food redistribution - particularly unsold or unsellable food - cannot solve the root causes of food insecurity. As supermarkets look to how they can best support the goal of eliminating food insecurity, redistributing their excess food and food waste (in the sense any food that goes beyond the needs of the supermarket and their sector) is not a sustainable or dignified way to approach the problem.

How can supermarkets help end food poverty?

The webinar acted as a concluding event of the project. Kelli and Carolyn share the outcomes of their research and discuss how supermarkets can help end food insecurity in an ethical and sustainable way. It looks to share good practice for how businesses can engage with ending food insecurity and serves as a knowledge exchange between the academic, supermarket, and food charity sectors.