THE WASTE & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has issued a new study which suggests that food waste could be cut through the redistribution of surplus products by retailers.
The Food Connection Programme report researched the level and types of excess food which supermarkets often have leftover and its suitability for redistribution to charities.
Around 4.3 million tonnes of food waste arises each year from manufacturing, retail and distribution, and an estimated 400,000 tonnes of high value food waste occurs from retail back of store.
The study used six trial projects, with the help of food waste charities, FareShare and FoodCycle, to monitor the amount of food that could be redistributed. The trials found that 5.5 tonnes of unwanted food was used rather than being left for waste and on average, 35kg of food was collected on each store visit, representing a 40% uplift.
Lindsay Boswell, CEO, FareShare said: “The results of the trial show that redistributing surplus food from supermarkets directly to charities not only provides them with food but also saves them money. At a time of such urgent need, this is incredibly important.”
Mary McGrath, CEO, FoodCycle, said: "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."
The information collected from these trials has now been shared with the Industry Working Group (IWG) so that further discussions can take place throughout the whole supply chain between retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and charities to share good practice and reduce unnecessary waste.
Andy Dawe, Head of Food & Drink at WRAP, said: “By drawing on the experiences and expertise of both the voluntary and business sectors, we now have a better understanding of the surpluses available at store level and are closer to overcoming some of the barriers to redistribution, both at store level and across the supply chain.
“In order to realise many food waste prevention opportunities we now need to see more collaboration within the industry, and with charities, to expand on this good work and make more of this valuable food available to those that need it.”