Only 7% of surplus food in UK supply chain reaches charities, despite uplift in amount businesses redistribute to good causes

FareShare, the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, has released new figures showing a 27 per cent increase in the amount of food redistributed to frontline charities this year.

In 2018/19 the charity redistributed 19,519 tonnes of good quality surplus food that would otherwise have been wasted, enough to create the equivalent of 46.5 million meals for people in need. However, despite this rapid growth, this only represents around 7 per cent of the total amount of the amount of edible food in the supply chain.

FareShare’s Chief Executive, Lindsay Boswell, said: “This dramatic uplift in the amount of food that businesses redistribute shows the industry has woken up to the problem of food waste and is taking steps to tackle it. This year alone we diverted enough surplus food to create 46.5m meals for those in need, a huge increase on last year. By taking good quality surplus food that would otherwise be wasted, such as wonky fruit and veg, or simply production run ‘overs’ where supply has outstripped demand a particular week, charities and community groups are able to provide tastier, more nutritious meals for their clients, as well as doing their bit for the environment. They also save thousands on their food bills – money which is then invested back into their vital services.”

“It should be the norm for businesses to measure and report on their food waste, and make sure that food that’s in date and fit for human consumption goes to feed people, and isn’t wasted.”

FareShare works with 500 food businesses to redistribute food that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors, cancelled orders, seasonal gluts or a short shelf life. That food, which is perfectly good to eat is then redistributed through a network of 11,000 frontline organisations, such as homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, food banks and hospices.

It comes as Food Surplus and Waste Champion Ben Elliot launches ‘Step up to the Plate’, a new food waste campaign urging businesses and individuals alike to pledge to reduce their food waste, with Government committing to halve food waste by 2030. A new Government fund also aims to substantially reduce food waste, making it more affordable for businesses to send their surplus to charities, rather than diverting food which is still good to eat to energy generation, composting or animal feed. Four redistribution organisations — including FareShare – will receive £4 million in funding through the first tranche of a £15 million scheme.

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