Thursday, May 18, 2017

food waste

A tiny proportion of excess food is being sent to charities and is instead ending up in landfill or left to rot, figures show. Less than 1% of edible surplus food produced by UK manufacturers and farms is being sent to charities to help feed the hungry.

Vegetables that are perfectly edible are being left to rot in the fields, and other foods not sold to retailers are put into anaerobic digestion or sent straight to landfill, the UK’s largest redistribution charity FareShare has warned. While retailers and supermarkets have doubled the amount of surplus food sent to feed the needy in the last three years, a high volume of food that never makes it into the shops is being needlessly wasted elsewhere in the supply chain, it said.

In the 2016/17 financial year, retailers redistributed more than 5,389 tonnes of edible food to charities. The figure for farms, suppliers and manufacturers was just 3,067 tonnes out of an estimated 610,000 tonnes of surplus edible food. According to the government’s waste advisory body Wrap, food waste at a supermarket level – any edible food that remains unsold – stands at just 2%, whereas 17% of edible food surplus found in manufacturers and on farms is lost.

FareShare said seasonal weather fluctuations, order cancellations and overstocking – all unpredictable – helped created surplus food which manufacturers, distributors and farms were not always in a position to redistribute.
“It’s simply absurd that more than eight million people in the UK are living in food poverty, and yet vast quantities of perfectly good food goes to waste,” said FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell. “The food waste hierarchy states that any food that can be safely eaten by humans should be, but this simply isn’t happening.”
FareShare said it redistributed enough surplus food in 2016/17 to feed almost half a million people a week through 6,723 frontline charities and community groups across the UK. These include homeless hostels, holiday hunger schemes, breakfast clubs, and refuges for women and their families experiencing domestic violence.

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