Redistributing surplus food to charities saves the UK economy £51 million every year

22 October 2018

A new socio-economic impact report released by FareShare today confirms that by collecting food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to good causes, the charity saves the UK economy approximately £51 million every year.

The Wasted Opportunity Report, carried out by NEF consulting, evaluates the economic and social value of redistributed surplus food, as well as the current and potential cost avoided by the UK public sector as a result of the charity’s work. It finds:

By collecting food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to charity and community groups, FareShare creates approximately £50.9 million of social-economic impact each year. This is made up of £6.9 million in social value to the beneficiaries themselves and £44 million in saving to the State (in savings to the NHS, the criminal justice system, to schools and in social care).

The implication of this calculation is that, were FareShare and other charities in the food redistribution sector able to scale up their operational capacity in order to handle 50% of the surplus food available in the UK supply chain, the value back to the State could be as much as £500 million per year.

FareShare is UK’s largest charity fighting hunger and food waste. It redistributes good quality surplus food from the UK supply chain and delivers it to nearly 10,000 charities and community groups, including homeless hostels, children’s breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges and community cafes.

In FareShare’s Annual Report, also published today, the charity announced that in 2017-2018 it redistributed 17,000 tonnes of in date, good to eat surplus food — enough to create almost 37 million meals. This surplus food is worth £30 million per year in cash savings to the charitable sector, and means charities can spend more delivering their frontline services. The report follows the announcement by Michael Gove, SoS for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for a £15million pilot project that aims to make it as cost effective for the food industry to redistribute their surplus to charities as it is for them to dispose of it as waste.

The charity is also launching a new campaign: Good Food Does Good, to encourage more businesses to do the right thing with their surplus by demonstrating the difference the food makes to the charities and individuals who receive it.

FareShare Chief Executive, Lindsay Boswell, said:  “We have always known food is a catalyst for good and now we are able to evidence it. A balanced, nutritious diet provides obvious health benefits, but sharing a meal also helps alleviate loneliness and reduces the number of times an isolated person may, for example, book a GPs appointment just so they have someone to talk to. The cost avoided by the State by charities serving up nutritious meals with FareShare food is a staggering £51 million every year, and that’s with us accessing just five per cent of the surplus food available. Imagine what we could do if we could get more of it.”

“We want to be clear – the food we redistribute is in date and good quality, just like the food you’d eat at home. That’s why we’re also launching our Good Food Does Good campaign, to show off our incredible fresh food and to celebrate the amazing businesses who are already giving us their surplus.”

Download the full technical report here.

“The cost avoided by the State by charities serving up nutritious meals with FareShare food is a staggering £51 million every year, and that’s with us accessing just five per cent of the surplus food available. Imagine what we could do if we could get more of it”

FareShare CEO, Lindsay Boswell