Monday, 17 October 2016

Progress in the Fight Against Food Waste

In case you missed it, WRAP recently released a report entitled ‘Quantification of food surplus, waste and related materials in the supply chain’. For the first time, it gave an official estimate for the amount of surplus which is fit for human consumption in the food and drink industry that could be used to feed hungry people: 270,000 tonnes each year. Currently, only around 10,000 tonnes of food is redistributed to charities each year - just the tip of the food waste iceberg. Yet progress is being made, both here in Manchester and across the UK.

FareShare Food SurplusIt can be easy to forget just how far we have come in the last decade in terms of how we view sustainability and waste in this country, and around the world. FareShare was only set up in 2004, and already the spectrum of debate around what we consume and throw away has rapidly changed in the last few years.

The emergence of developing technologies on smartphones and mobile devices has connected us in so many ways, but only recently have these developments been used as a way to try to feed more people.

WRAP’s report suggests there is a minimum of 270,000 tonnes of edible food surplus that could be redistributed to charities each year, and used to feed people in need. FareShare believes the figure might even be higher. This means that there is still a lot of work to be done, but it is important to recognise how far we have already come.

FareShare is currently handling around 3% of the edible surplus food that is available in the UK, which equates to more than 9,000 tonnes redistributed to charities last year alone; this amounts to 18 million meals distributed to hungry people by a wide range of brilliant charities and organisations in 2015/16.
FareShare Food Waste Statistics

As momentum builds, more charities are able to make good use of the excess food surplus. Here at FareShare Greater Manchester, the food we diverted from waste and redistributed to local charities increased by 20% last year, to 751 tonnes, enough for charities and community groups across the region to provide 1.3 million meals to people in need.

FareShare Sorting Food Waste

These figures are expected to rise as more and more companies look to bring sustainability into focus and see how they can remove unnecessary waste from their supply chains.

Lucy Danger, CEO of EMERGE 3Rs, who run FareShare Greater Manchester, says, “Food businesses may be unsure about the types of surplus food we can take for redistribution or feel daunted about the prospect of diverting their produce to us, but FareShare works closely with them to make it as easy and cost-effective as possible to identify their surplus foods in order to, safely and compliantly, get it to the people who need it most. We do this professionally, we don’t undermine brands, we save the donor companies money in terms of disposal and give them plenty of corporate brownie points.”

Another key driver in terms of reducing food surplus and food waste has been the incredible time and effort put in by volunteers and staff in the sector, day in and day out. Without so many hands on deck working tirelessly to stop food being wasted and get it redistributed to the right people, these figures wouldn’t look anywhere near as promising. 

FareShare Food Distribution Van
As fresh food degrades so quickly, a speedy turnaround is paramount. There is still such a long way to go, but if we continue down this current path and get as many people on board and trained up as possible, we can help to make a significant difference in reducing food waste and fighting hunger at the same time. If you are thinking about getting involved, there has never been a better time to do so.

Live or work in Greater Manchester? Can you help volunteer in the depot or drive our vans? Are you a local business looking to redirect your surplus food? To find out how you can help tackle food waste right now please see: or give us a call: 0161 223 8200 Option 4 :)

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