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Study aims to send UK surplus food where it is most needed

Supermarket food waste could be redistributed rather than binned. Picture: WRAP.

WRAP report shows there is potential for supermarkets to redistribute their excess food after trials with food redistribution and food waste charities FareShare and FoodCycle.

The report, The Food Connection Programme, brought together two initiatives on food redistribution with the first showing there is potential for supermarkets to redistribute their excess food at store level. The research showed that, not only is there potential for more surplus food to be shared with charities putting it to good use, but doing so could actually save supermarkets money.

Lindsay Boswell, CEO, FareShare, said: “At a time of such urgent need, this is incredibly important. While the majority of surplus food exists further up the supply chain, we are committed at FareShare to ensuring no good food goes to waste. 

“The trial has also shown that to make this type of redistribution work, we need to invest a great deal of resources. I’m pleased to announce that we will have a team looking at this but in order to redistribute this food effectively and make sure we have a programme that is replicable across the country, we need the financial support of the food industry.” 

Waste supermarket food can be used by food redistribution charities. Picture: WRAP.

The research found that whilst tonnages of surplus food available at store level are small in comparison to the whole supply chain, the volumes are sufficient to deliver real benefit to those who need it. The report also highlights that the barriers to rolling out redistribution from stores on a nationwide scale are still significant due to current capacity and resource limitations within both charity and retailer processes. 

Greg Sage, community director, at Tesco said: ‘We want to ensure that our surplus food goes to helping feed people in need. We are already working in partnership with FareShare on our Neighbourhood Food Collections and donations of surplus fresh food from our distribution centres and online grocery stores.”

Mary McGrath, CEO, FoodCycle, added: "For the last five years FoodCycle has been reclaiming supermarket back-of-store surplus food to turn into nutritious meals for those in need. From this we know the scale of this surplus, and that's why we were very willing to share our expertise with retailers and charities so that more perfectly edible food can reach vulnerable people in communities across the UK." 

By Lucy

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