16 facts from Co-op’s ethics and sustainability report

Releasing its annual results from 2017, the report covers fair trade, health targets like salt and sugar, recycling, food waste and animal welfare.

16 April 2018
food wastehealthmeatstatisticssupermarketssustainability

Fairtrade and higher welfare

  • There was a 15.1% increase in Fairtrade sales last year compared to 2016, when the overall market growth was 7.4%.
  • Co-op says it became the first UK retailer to sell and use only 100% Fairtrade cocoa in its own-brand products, from the chocolate sprinkles on doughnuts to the chocolate chips in cookies.
  • There was £88m worth of sales of higher-welfare fresh, frozen and prepared products, down from £99m in 2016.
  • Since 2015, £2.5bn has been invested in sourcing Co-op branded British meat, produce and dairy products.
  • As a result, all Co-op branded fresh meat is 100% sourced from Britain since May 2017, with the goal that all Co-op branded frozen meat products will be British by 2019.
  • In terms of seafood sustainability, 57% of Co-op branded fish was wild caught (the rest was farmed). The number of Marine Stewardship Council-certified products increased to 49, up from 40 in 2016.


  • At the end of 2017, 44% of the Co-op’s branded food and drink products carried no red traffic light – this remains unchanged from the year before.
  • To make healthier choices accessible, 96% of the Co-op’s own-brand healthier choices are no more expensive than their standard equivalent product, but this is down from 100% of products in 2016.
  • Co-op aims to make a minimum of 50% of its price-based promotions on food and non-alcoholic drinks applicable to healthier offerings by 2020. (However, it admits it’s behind schedule, as 2017 saw a slight decrease to 36%, compared to the 38% on offer in 2016.)
  • There were 63m teaspoons of sugar removed from categories such as Co-op branded breakfast cereals, grocery cooking sauces, flavoured milk, desserts and confectionery in 2017.
  • When it came to salt, 97% of Co-op branded products met the Department of Health salt target, as well as 35 out of 46 relevant categories.

Recycling and food waste

  • In terms of total operational waste, 96% was reused, recycled or recovered – which remains unchanged from 2016.
  • There were gains for Co-op brand product packaging, with 71% easy to recycle, up from 46% in 2016. The company has an aim for 80% of their packaging to be easy to recycle by 2020.
  • Charity partners were given 442 tonnes of surplus food from the Co-op, down from 512 tonnes in 2016.
  • There are eight Farming Groups in Co-op, made up of just over 400 farmers and growers. 79% of these farms have active plans in place to reduce the amount of water they use and 100% have water pollution controls in place.
  • The agricultural team made 117 site visits to monitor animal welfare at sites such as farms, hatcheries and abattoirs last year, down from 127 visits in 2016.

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