Shoppers to benefit from low-cost 'social supermarket'

9 December 2013

The UK's first 'social supermarket' has opened the doors to its pilot store today to help families on low incomes buy affordable food.

The Community Shop in Goldthorpe, Barnsley, sells surplus food the big supermarkets can't or don't want to at discounts of up to 70%.

The supermarket isn't open to the general public and only those on low incomes and receiving benefits are invited to apply for membership.

The new store has been leafleting residents of Goldthorpe, an area of deprivation, encouraging them to apply.

Those who qualify will receive a photo ID membership card, and their right to shop at the store will be assessed every six months.

The Community Shop, led by social entrepreneur Sarah Dunwell, will also be able to access support programmes and advice services, including debt and budgeting advice, cookery lessons and CV writing.

The store said its aim is to provide members with "a route back to mainstream shopping".

Price rises

Food inflation has hit a rate of 4.2% this year, according to Prestige Purchasing's annual Food Inflation Report - adding £850 to the average household grocery bill of £5,000.

The price rises were blamed on lower harvests as a result of volatile weather and the horsemeat scandal, which the report said "resulted in a 'perfect storm' that has pushed food inflation to these high levels with fruit rates in excess of 10%, while vegetables and meat also drove up the average figure".

Major retailers and manufacturers Asda, Morrisons, The Co-operative Food, M&S, Tesco, Mondelēz, Ocado, Tetley, Young's and Muller are all supporting the social supermarket and diverting their surplus stock to the pilot.

Company Shop, the surplus goods redistributor behind the social supermarket, hopes to open stores in London and in other parts of the UK next year should the pilot prove successful.
Sarah Dunwell from Community Shop said: "With many families facing tough times in Barnsley, Company Shop wanted to do more to match surplus stock with people who really need it."

She added: "Industry surplus is hard to avoid, but what Community Shop shows is that if we all work together we can make sure that surplus food delivers lasting social good."

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