Government urged to reinstate food redistribution lifeline

Fareshare has called on the government to reverse a decision to axe funding for industry food redistribution or risk an estimated 53 million meals going to waste.

Since 2018, the government has contributed £5m annually to a food waste fund which helps farmers and food producers cover the costs of getting unsold food to charities. The funding is now due to be axed and calls to extend it have so far been rejected.

In response, Fareshare, which redistributes over 50,000 tonnes of food annually equivalent to over 100 million meals, has launched a #FoodOnPlates campaign to stop millions of additional tonnes of fresh, unsold food from being wasted.

The charity said that 1 in 8 people in the UK currently struggle to afford food, and the pandemic has resulted in many more families facing food insecurity, with 67% of charities providing emergency food aid saying they would have to continue even as restrictions ease.

Despite this, Fareshare noted it is cheaper for farmers to waste good-to-eat food than get it to charities. It said France, which offers business incentives through reduced taxation for food redistribution, gets six times more unsold food to charities.

“Our network of frontline charities have been a lifeline for families during the pandemic, and, sadly, demand now remains at similar levels,” said FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell. “It’s a scandal that good food is left to rot in our fields or be thrown into biogas digesters or landfill when so many families are still dependent on food aid in the wake of the crisis, with thousands more unable to afford healthy fruit and veg.”

In July, WWF urged businesses to embrace ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables to help cut farm waste after a report found farms account for 1.2 billion tonnes of food wasted annually.

Wrap, meanwhile, published a report this week that identified a 20% potential increase in profits for UK farms through minimising food surplus and waste.

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