New group to improve food redistribution to needy

A new industry working group met last week (24 January) to discuss possible ways to improve the UK’s food redistribution to those in need and produce an action plan.

The group, made up of industry bodies including retailers, manufacturers and charities such as Boots UK, innocent drinks and FoodCycle, discussed the current systems in place and possible future methods needed to ‘explore and support ways to increase the amount of surplus food made available for delivery to those in need’.

The group is expected to produce a progress report later this year.

The meeting was chaired by Andy Dawe, Head of Food and Drink at the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

He commented: “Preventing waste arising not only saves money in tough economic times but also provides environmental savings. Where there is a surplus of food it is important to make sure it’s being used in the best possible way. The cost of food is rising, and this means that some of the most vulnerable groups in society sometimes struggle to afford food. Increasing food redistribution will help the poorest in society and prevent perfectly good food from going to waste, along with all that went into making it.

“By tackling this with key players across the supply chain we can collectively discover what works and what doesn’t to find the best solutions that we hope will lead to increased redistribution.”

WRAP has increased its focus on food waste and food disparity recently and last week (22 January) helped launch the Think.Eat.Save: Reduce Your Foodprint campaign set up by the UN Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization and other partners in the aim of significantly reducing the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year. 

According to a study conducted by Aalto University in Finland, the food supply chain (FSC) accounts for one quarter of the world’s lost food. This includes losses that happen before the food is distributed (such as at the harvest or transportation stages), as well as losses caused by retailers and consumers, such as the disposal of imperfect fruits and vegetables.

Waste Minister Lord de Mauley, said: “Preventing food waste protects the environment and makes good business sense. Surplus food is an inevitable part of a secure supply chain and this is an excellent means of putting it to good use. I welcome the launch of this working group and look forward to hearing of its progress later this year.”

Read more about food waste.