Continente is developing pioneering platform to fight food waste

On the day that we celebrate the 1st International Day of Awareness about Food Losses and Waste, Sonae MC starts the LIFEFood Cycle project, to develop an innovative platform that will allow Continente stores to manage their stock breaks in a more digital way, optimizing the donation to solidarity institutions and selling their food products at risk of rupture to commercial partners, at a price that is expected to be lower.

This is an innovative and pioneering project at a European level, as Continente will be the first brand to have a digital platform for managing donations and the selling (B2B) of its surpluses. Improving the food system’s sustainability is the LIFEFood Cycle project’s goal, developed in consortium with Phenix, and 55% co-financed by the European Union's LIFE program - the European financing instrument for the environment and climate action.

The LIFEFood Cycle will make the process of solidarity donations more efficient, increasing the total breakage that can be reused for social and animal support institutions, simultaneously with the B2B sales, that will be a novelty. The donation process has existed for many years at Continente stores and, in a predominantly manual way, allowed, in 2019, to donate 12.3 million euros in food surpluses to more than 1000 social solidarity institutions and animal support associations. Company employees also benefit from these products that are made available in the Continente stores’ and warehouses’ social areas.

All stores have a partnership with one or more local institutions to donate food surpluses, as long as they keep their consumption conditions - that is, the loss occurs only with regard to its commercial character. Donations take place throughout the year, across Continente stores.

The future platform will also allow B2B sales to commercial partners, allowing to recover more products that have lost their commercial value, at a price predictably lower than in physical stores.

Continente continues to develop other initiatives to fight food waste in its stores, such as the sale, for just € 0.50 / kg, of 5kg boxes with fruits and vegetables that are close to exceeding their optimal consumption point. The Zer0% Waste Boxes are currently available in 29 stores, but the expansion to the other stores is being studied, thus avoiding the waste of 25 tonnes of fruits and vegetables per year.

In addition to these boxes, the brand is taking advantage of the waste generated in the production of PGI apples and pears by turning them into dehydrated fruit snacks, for sale for € 0.69 each 20g package, but not only: there are also natural juices that are made only from these squeezed fruits, without any added sugar or water, such as the 100% Alcobaça Apples juice, of 1.5 l for € 2.99.

The ‘Banana Solteira’ project, in a collaboration between Continente and Bagga, allows fighting the waste of bananas that were removed from the bunches and left loose in Continente stores. Bananas are offered for sale at a fixed price (€ 0.50) at Bagga coffee shops.

For Pedro Lago, Director of Sustainability Projects at Sonae MC, “for a long time our vision has been based on zero waste. The main goal is that any food that is in condition to be consumed is not wasted. This day allows us to draw attention to a problem that relates to everyone”.

Continente has been working on projects of circular economy and waste fighting, such as, Sweets & Chutneys made from fruits and vegetables that lose their commercial validity but are transformed and gain new life; Panana, a cake rich in manganese, made with banana pulp that people no longer want to take from stores; and Bread Beer, a craft beer developed together with Vadia, produced with surplus bread from Continente’s bakeries.

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