Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of good food is wasted by the UK food industry every year. At the same time, millions of people are struggling to afford to eat. Our work addresses these two issues by redistributing food industry surplus, which would otherwise go to waste, to the people who need it most. Find facts and figures on food waste and hunger in the UK below.
This is equivalent to the entire population of London
4.7 million of these people live in severely food insecure homes. This means that their food intake is greatly reduced and children regularly experience physical sensations of hunger.
UN figures also show that 5.6% of people aged 15 or over struggle to get enough food. A further 4.5% report that they have been a full day without anything to eat.
Our own research shows that 46% of people accessing the services of our charity partners have gone a whole day without a proper meal in the last month.
By “food industry” we mean all businesses involved in the supply of food. It includes everyone from farmers and growers to manufacturers and processors to wholesalers, retailers and food service companies.
That’s enough for 650 million meals
We call food that isn’t going to be sold, but which is still edible, surplus food. Food becomes surplus for simple reasons such as over-production, labeling errors or short shelf-life. Surplus food occurs everywhere in the supply chain from field through to fork. Here’s a breakdown of where it occurs and how much:
It is a legal requirement for UK companies to operate according to these principles
The waste hierarchy sets out five steps for dealing with waste, ranked according to their environmental impact. It states that surplus food should be used to feed people first before it is sent to animal feed or energy.
Currently in the UK, instead of surplus food being used to feed people, many food manufacturers, processors and suppliers dispose of that food via anaerobic digestion (AD) or provide it for animal feed. There are currently a number of Government incentives to support AD. While we support this, these same incentives do not exist for feeding people – so we’re asking the Government to bring in a level playing field and ensure that it is cheaper for food businesses to redistribute food than to throw it away.
13 July 2017
Take a look at our handy guide explaining where food waste occurs along the supply chain – from farm through to fork – and how you can help tackle it.
8 February 2016
France has now passed the law, voted unanimously in the French Senate last week, which forces supermarkets to donate their surplus food to charity. Would we want a similar law in the UK?
23 January 2015
Amount of food going to waste, while the UK faces food security challenges, deemed unacceptable in House of Commons report.