FareShare calls for big drive to stop needless food waste, as new statistics show dramatic impact of pandemic on UK families

Press Enquiries

National and regional: 020 7394 2460

FareShare Go: 020 7394 2476

15 June 2021

The UK’s biggest charity fighting hunger and food waste, is calling on government and industry to do much more to stop needless food waste, as part of a green post pandemic recovery. FareShare’s call comes on the day it publishes new figures, which show the devastating impact the last year has had on communities and families.

“What many people don’t realise is that food waste is a huge contributor to global warming. It accounts for at least 8% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s around three times pre-Covid levels of emissions from the aviation industry. About a third of all the food we produce in the world is wasted each year. In the UK alone more than 2 million tonnes of food is good-to-eat, when it is thrown away, and with people still going hungry that’s scandalous.”

“If the UK is serious about cutting its carbon emissions, reducing food waste must be a big part of that, and FareShare’s Surplus with Purpose scheme can help industry and government lead the way.”

James Persad, Head of Marketing at FareShare

The charity’s annual statistics confirm that between April 2020 and March 2021, it redistributed more than fifty-five thousand (55,000) tonnes of food to people at risk of hunger. That’s the equivalent of nearly 132 million meals, or 4 meals every second.

FareShare takes delivery of surplus good-to-eat food, which is unsold or unwanted by the food industry, sorts it in one of its 30 regional warehouses, and passes it onto a network of nearly 11,000 charities and charity groups.

These organisations then turn this nutritious food into meals for vulnerable families and individuals, many of whom are struggling with unemployment, low income, debt, homelessness, family break up, dependency or other issues.

FareShare’s annual statistics show it supplied an average of 2,538,276 meals every week to people struggling to get enough to eat in 2020/21, double the amount it redistributed in 2019/20 (1,097,147 meals).

Of the 10,542 charities and community groups FareShare supports through its network, nine in ten say they have experienced unprecedented demand for food throughout the pandemic. And that is borne out by the figures. Each of these organisations received an average of 5.2 tonnes of food via FareShare — the equivalent of 12,530 meals — a staggering increase of 139%, compared to 2019/20.

Lindsay Boswell, FareShare’s CEO said: “these figures show the scale of just how many people have been struggling to get enough to eat, during the last year. Our warehouses, staff, volunteers and our network of charities have been working flat out, to support the millions of people and families who are going hungry. But just because the lockdown is easing, doesn’t mean people won’t still be struggling. Our charities tell us need is still high, and our work continues.”

FareShare’s annual figures show that more than 20,000 tonnes - more than a third (37%) of the food it redistributes — now comes via its pioneering Surplus with Purpose scheme.

Set up with a one-off government grant two years ago, Surplus with Purpose works with small-scale farmers, growers and suppliers to save food that is rejected for consumer sale, for being the wrong shape or size, or because of production errors, and helps them with the cost of redistributing this fresh food through FareShare, rather than let it rot in the ground, used for animal feed or sent to landfill.

The Surplus with Purpose scheme is already being supported by some supermarkets, as an example of best practice. And with the UN Food Summit and COP26 happening later this year, FareShare wants to see government and industry working together to roll out the scheme across the UK, to help cut waste and carbon emissions.