Colruyt Group facilitates enhanced access to food for everyone: record number of donations to social organisations

Colruyt Group facilitates enhanced access to food for everyone: record number of donations to social organisations

2023 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Monday, October 16, 2023- – In 2022, Colruyt Group donated a massive 6,649 tonnes of food to social organisations, In turn, these organisations ensure that people who are slightly less well off have access to it. This is a record number for the retail group, which will only increase for 2023. ​ The partnership between Colruyt Group and the social organisations often goes beyond donating food alone: they actively work together to safeguard the quality and food safety of the items, process waste correctly, and share expertise at the same time. What’s more, Colruyt Laagste Prijzen (Lowest Prices) continues to work on the further rollout of the social initiative “Aan tafel in 1-2-3 euro” (Dinner on the table in 1-2-3 euro), right now helping some 9200 vulnerable families to have better access to healthy food.

Record number of food donations to social organisations:
​6649 tonnes in 2022

Colruyt Group has been a frontrunner when it comes to donations to Belgian social organisations for years now. It combats food waste and - even more importantly - it ensures that people in dire need can still have access to (fresh) supermarket food. In 2022, 6,649 tonnes of surplus food was donated to Belgian charitable organisations, such as the Food Banks, Foodsavers, restos du Coeur, and the Red Cross. The organisations receive the products (6121 tonnes) directly from the 393 Bio-Planet, Colruyt, Cru, and Okay shops, or collect the products from the distribution centres and the Collect&Go picking centres (529 tonnes).

The collaborations often go beyond food donations alone. This year, Colruyt Laagste Prijzen (Lowest Prices) joined forces with the Federation of Food Banks to offer some of their members eutectic plates at a rock-bottom price. Using these plates in the usual Styrofoam boxes makes it possible to transport fresh meat and fish. This ensures the best possible food safety and allows the shops to make the most of their donations at the best quality. Anne Verdoolaege, co-responsible for the coordination of these collaborations at Colruyt Group, adds: “We are going the extra mile in our collaboration with Food Distribution platforms in Flanders, where they are taking on the management of usable waste triage. The genuine waste is returned to us the next morning when they collect a new donation.”

By calling on the expertise the donation organisations and charities have, and by leaving decisions to the specialists in situ, there is a further increase in the donation rate. For example, Colruyt Group entered into a partnership with the umbrella organisation Sociale Kruidenier Vlaanderen (Social Grocer Flanders). The social grocers affiliated to this foundation meet high quality standards and are allowed to bear its quality label. Anne Verdoolaege: “Thanks to this new partnership, we can work with even more organisations, replacing the offer of a food parcel with a genuine shop experience whereby the deprived person can make their own choices - to an agreed quantity - as a customer. This adds an extra focus on human dignity. By working with organisations to grasp new opportunities and obstacles, we continue to grow in volume, quality and efficiency to help those less fortunate."

Starting this year and taking place twice a year, Colruyt Laagste Prijzen (Lowest Prices) has also started to structurally offer the freezer cases from the shops, up for replacement about every four years, to well-known charities in the local area at a small price. “Freezer cases are an important resource for these organisations, yet often a stumbling block due to the cost of purchasing them. This way, we can help ensure their continued existence and the possibility for expansion when demand increases - which is the case everywhere. We will more than likely match the donation tonnage from 2022 in 2023,” says Anne Verdoolaege. 

9,200 vulnerable families take part in “Dinner on the table in 1-2-3 euro”

‘Dinner on the table in 1-2-3 euro’ started in 2015 as a pilot project by Colruyt Laagste Prijzen (Lowest Prices) as a cocreation with the city and Kortrijk OCMW (Public Centre for Social Welfare). After a positive pilot with 144 families, Colruyt decided to roll out the project nationally from the end of 2016. Jump forward to today and the retailer works with numerous social organisation in a host of Belgian municipalities - 280 to be precise.

Vulnerable families with children are informed (without obligation) by social organisations such as the OCMW (Public Centre for Social Welfare), Centrum Algemeen Welzijn (General Wellbeing Centre), or Kind & Gezin (Child & Family). Families who register voluntarily will receive a Colruyt recipe book in the post every fortnight, each containing six varied recipes (meat, fish, vegetarian) and the shopping lists to match. Each recipe will make 3 generous portions and will cost no more than 1, 2, or 3 euros per portion (and therefore a maximum of 3, 6, or 9 euros at the till). This provides a structural and sustainable solution that increases the participants’ self-reliance and helps make a healthier diet more accessible.

In 2022, 9,200 families took part in the initiative and the project will continue this year too.