FareShare welcomes EFRA Food Waste Report but urges a much stronger focus on the role manufacturers can play in charity food redistribution

30 April 2017

FareShare today welcomed the publication of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee report - Food waste in England. The report recommended that more should be done to ensure that the estimated 270,000 tonnes of surplus food that is wasted each year is used to feed people first and that businesses should be encouraged to observe the food waste hierarchy. This would ensure that no food is used as animal feed, sent to anaerobic digestion plants or to landfill before it could be safely eaten.

The report included recommendations as to the role that supermarkets can play in being transparent and publishing their waste figures. However this represents just 1% of the surplus food available and as a result, FareShare is calling for more manufacturers, processors, suppliers and growers to be encouraged to implement waste reduction and charitable food redistribution processes.

As a result of current tax incentives in place to support anaerobic digestion (AD), it costs less for food companies to send their edible surplus to be turned into green energy than to be redistributed to charities. The report recommends that the incoming Government assesses how it might further promote the redistribution of surplus food through additional fiscal measures. The report also recommends that food businesses over a certain size should be required to produce a Food Surplus and Waste Management Plan.

"It’s important to remember that the bulk of surplus food is actually found further up the supply chain"

Responding to the report FareShare Chief Executive Lindsay Boswell, said: “The EFRA committee are right to shine a spotlight on just how much good quality, in-date food could go to the voluntary sector but is instead sent to AD, turned into animal feed or wasted. FareShare feeds just under half-a-million people every week through our 6,723 charity and community group partners, but this is just 4% of the potential food that could be redistributed to people who need it.

“Our ambition is for 25% of surplus food to be redirected to vulnerable people. This will save front-line charities, many of which rely on central and local government support, £150 million a year. For this to happen, it is vital that there’s a level playing field when it comes to incentives, so that businesses are not penalised for following the food waste hierarchy and doing the right thing with their surplus food.

“Supermarket shelves might be where food waste is most visible to consumers, but it’s important to remember that the bulk of surplus food is actually found further up the supply chain – with manufacturers, processors and growers. There’s a tremendous amount of willing among manufacturers, and we already work with a number of well-known brands to redistribute their surplus food. Without them, we simply won’t be able to access the large amounts of food we need to reach our targets for charity food redistribution, so it’s vital that any initiatives that encourage the food industry to observe the food waste hierarchy are not solely focussed on retailers and apply to manufacturers as well.”

Do you work for a company with surplus food that could be redistributed to charity? Find out about Giving Food.