Shelves cleared in minutes when supermarket gives away all its food

Netto staff didn't want it to go to waste

The Netto store in Lincoln.

When a Lincoln supermarket was forced to close, staff gave away all the stock for free - and customers cleared the shelves in minutes.

The Netto store was one of 16, owned by Sainsbury's, that closed down last month after the company gave up on trying to comete with Aldi and Lidl.

A lot of the stock was given to charity, but organisations simply didn't have enough freezer space to take it all.

"We called all the homeless shelters and food banks in the area. Unfortunately, not everyone has banks and banks of freezers to store it all in," says staff member Ian Smith.

"A few charities came down before we opened the doors and took what they could get in their freezers. We did what we could in the very short space of time that we have had."

And staff didn't want to waste the food that was left, so decided to give it away to local families. They contacted local homelessness charity the Nomad Trust, which spread the news on Facebook.

"They have quite a lot of frozen foods that need to go and although they would prefer it to go to charity they also realise the value in not just throwing it away so have asked me to share this with everyone," the organisers wrote on Tuesday.

"They will be open 10.30am to 12pm tomorrow for anyone to go down and take what's left."

Customers queued patiently for the store to open - but then cleared the shelves in a scene straight out of Supermarket Sweep. Many were laden down with shopping bags, or pushing heavily-loaded trolleys, and some collected car-loads of groceries and distributed them to neighbours who couldn't get out.

Supermarkets have traditionally been extremely stingy when it comes to giving away surplus food. However, with increasing pressure to stop the waste, some are making moves to give more to charity.

Last year, for example, Tesco pledged to make more of its unsold food available to charities through a partnership with food redistribution charity FareShare and Irish social enterprise FoodCloud.

It had been throwing away 55,400 tonnes of food a year, most of which was still perfectly edible.

And, earlier this year, coffee chain Starbucks also signed up with FoodShare to hand over 100% of its unsold food to people on low incomes. Perishable and ready to eat meals will be made available to those who need it the most within 24 hours.

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