SUPERMARKETS are donating unsold stock to a charity in a bid to cut the amount of produce that is thrown away.

Both Tunbridge Wells branches of Tesco and the Tonbridge branch of Marks & Spencer have struck up a partnership to support Nourish Community Foodbank as they look to cut waste and increase the amount of food available for those in need.

With an estimated 4.4million tonnes of edible food sent to landfill across the UK every year, the arrangement benefits not only those involved, but also the environment.

The local supermarkets join a growing trend of businesses seeking to play their part in reducing a national problem which analysts have said is getting worse.

The industry has previously been criticised for being overly-selective with products, and Tesco has recently made national headlines by selling ripe satsumas with an unusual green colour. Nourish takes referrals for Tunbridge Wells and, since April, the south Tonbridge area, too.

A spokesman for M&S Foodhall in Cannon Lane, Tonbridge, said: “We want to make sure unsold food is put to the best possible use by redistributing it locally so people can benefit.

“The store provides unsold food to the charity, including fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods and non-perishables. “Reducing food waste remains a key priority, whether it’s across the supply chain, at distribution centres and stores, or helping customers to reduce food waste in their own homes.”

In June, M&S launched their ambitious Plan A project to try and ensure every piece of food unsold at the end of the day goes to human consumption. They aim to have the plan fully in place nationwide before 2026.

Community fridge schemes have also started in some places across the country, where supermarkets can pass on unsold produce which can then be accessed by residents. Nourish Foodbank operate by collecting donated, typically non-perishable, food items, which are transferred to and stored at Big Yellow Storage in the North Farm industrial estate.

Residents and families who are struggling to put food on the table can be referred, and are able to collect a maximum of 12 bags in a 12-month period. There are also initiatives in place to discourage dependency.

Dawn Stamford of Nourish said of the supermarket agreement: “It is a really good scheme as it means we can offer more items and can get things like bread [which aren’t generally donated]. “I think it is really positive to have this partnership. We have been having donations from Tesco for about a year.”