Different types of food co-ops generate different amounts of waste (or food surplus). Good ordering and storage systems will help reduce this and there are many creative ways of using surplus to generate more income.

Bag and box schemes generally have very little waste because everything is ordered in advance. In comparison, if you run a stall or mobile shop you won't always be able to predict how much will sell. This is why some food co-ops run several stalls during the week - leftover produce from a stall on one day can then be sold the next day. 

The advice in the Ordering and Storage sections will help you minimise your food waste, but some is inevitable. It is useful to think of a few ideas of making best use of leftover produce, for example:

  • Letting volunteers take it home
  • Running a fundraising or educational event e.g. a Soupe Disco 
  • Donating it to a homeless shelter, local youth club or a community-run cookery group such as FoodCycle

Selling surplus food

There are various ways you could sell your surplus, for example:

  • Invest in a juicer, and use any fruit or vegetables likely to go off to make smoothies or soups to sell
  • Use a dehydrator to preserve fruit and vegetables which can then be sold as a healthy snack food
  • Freeze any excess to be used at a later date

Last resort

Failing all else, you can compost leftover fruit and vegetables or use them as animal feed (check in with your local community farm!) rather than putting them in the bin. A local allotment scheme may be pleased to receive regular contributions to build their compost heap!

The Love Food Hate Waste campaign can give you more ideas for what to do with your food waste. 

To find more useful food co-op related information visit our homepage

Food Co-ops toolkit: The Food Co-ops Toolkit will give you all the information you need to set up your own food co-op.

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