Good practice

Surplus food from grocery stores to charities

Surplus food from grocery stores to charities
© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS, #143274843, 2018, source:
Materials, Waste, Carbon
Food processing, Wholesale and retail
Total cost savings:
Savings are made in waste management costs, preventing surplus food from ending up as biowaste or landfill
Premises and operation areas:
Supply operations, Waste and recycling

Shared table... a shared cause 

  • A network for collection and centralised logistics of surplus food from grocery chains helps different charities
  • It means more reliable food waste collection through pooled logistics solutions

In Vantaa, Finland a logistics network has been developed for collecting and distributing surplus food, still edible but no longer suitable for selling, from different grocery chains. The network, called Yhteinen Pöytä (Shared Table), is a Vantaa Parish Union initiative and is coordinated together with the city of Vantaa. HOK-Elanto (Helsinki Cooperative Society Elanto), a grocery trade cooperative operating in the Helsinki region, was also inovolved in developing and piloting the concept. Several grocery companies and different actors in the chains donate their surplus food to the network.

Before Shared Table, the food waste was collected by different small charities that lacked transport and storage space needed to keep the food fit for consumption. But now the network takes the surplus food with a refrigerated truck to a centralised storage location before distributing it to different charities.

Key benefits

From the grocery companies point of view, participating in the network means the surplus food collection is more regular and reliable. A higher percentage of non-sellable food is made available for human consumption, which is better for the environment, the charities involved and the recipients of the food. Being in the network also boosts the image of participating companies.

Want to know if relevant support is offered in your country?