Surplus-fed cow cuts waste and feeds needy

food redistribution organisation Company Shop is calling on retailers to explore rearing cattle on a diet consisting partly of out-of-date products to reduce food waste drastically.

The Barnsley-based enterprise has successfully completed a trial of rearing a cow on a diet of food which was no longer deemed fit for human consumption.

Pasta, fruit and vegetables, cereals and confectionery at the end of their use-by date made up more than a quarter of the cow’s overall diet, along with barley, sugar beet, molasses and protein.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Company Shop redistributes surpluses from the food industry to charities. Meat from the trial cow is being shared equally between the local branch of FareShare, the Barnsley Churches Drop-In Project and The Salvation Army.

The trial started last May and Company Shop is now beginning to rear a second cow, which is expected to be ready in nine to 10 months. The organisation believes the project represents a sustainable model which retailers could replicate to help tackle the 4.7 million people who suffer from food poverty.

John Marren, chairman of Company Shop, said: “Supporting local charities is so important to us but we always want to do it in a way that is sustainable.

“The Company Shop meat initiative provides a solution to food waste, creates a plentiful supply of animal feed and, most importantly, results in wholesome meals for vulnerable people.

“This is just the beginning. We have lots more exciting ideas like this to come.”

Peter Mulrooney, trustee of Barnsley Churches Drop-In Project, said the donated meat would help the charity to serve homemade, nutritious meals for weeks to come to the homeless and substance users it supports.

Company Shop expects to handle 25,000 tonnes of surplus stock per year over the next three years.