FareShare response to EFRA report on food security
FareShare welcomes the report Food security: demand, consumption and waste,
published Thursday 22 January, by the House Of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, specifically its references to food surplus and the benefits associated with ensuring this is used to feed people in need.
The report states “At a time when global food systems are under pressure and the UK faces its own food security challenges, this level of waste is unacceptable economically, socially and environmentally”. We wholeheartedly agree with this.
However it also notes that there are no magic bullets – yet we believe FareShare’s redistribution model provides one. We estimate that there is up to 300-400,000 tonnes of edible surplus food being wasted each year within the food supply chain and before it reaches the consumers basket. FareShare is currently accessing just 2% of this but with it we are generating incredible value for charities and community organisations struggling to support people who are facing long term hunger.
FareShare has 20 years experience and a proven record of working with the food industry to redistribute surplus food, achieving significant results and impact. In the last year alone, we have redistributed enough food to provide over 1,700 charities and community projects that has enabled them to provide 13.2 million meals.
Key issues from the report we would like to highlight:
- While emergency food provision and food banks are one part of the solution, the charities and community organisations we support are working with thousands of individuals experiencing long term hunger as a result of other deep rooted issues such as homelessness, addiction, violence, isolation and poor access to a healthy diet. They aim to provide vulnerable members of the community with not just a hand out but also a hand up.
- The offer of a hot nutritious meal is often what brings people through the door of the organisations we support in the first place. By serving food on site the charities we supply are better able to engage with their clients to help them tackle their wider issues whilst also providing them with the unique opportunity to sit together to enjoy a freshly cooked meal. FareShare provides fresh nutritious food which beneficiaries state helps to improve their health and wellbeing.
- By providing food to charities and community projects, we enable the third sector to save over £16 million a year. Much of that is reinvested into other support services to help people back on their feet. By increasing the amount of surplus food redistributed to charities and community organisations, we can continue to increase the money we save them every year.
- The majority of surplus food occurs within the manufacturing and processing sector and whilst retailers can, and are, playing a major role in facilitating our access to food, we need more companies to do the right thing with their surplus. Collaboration by the different actors within the supply chain including retailers, manufacturers and logistics companies is needed to identify barriers and to develop shared solutions, something FareShare has extensive experience in co-ordinating. Our work with Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco demonstrates that this can lead to increased volumes of surplus food being diverted for human consumption.
We do not value food enough in the UK. There needs to be culture change in how we view surplus food:
- The Government needs to support and promote a more equitable system that allows for increased surplus food redistribution to people in need.
- The industry needs to develop and establish systems and processes enabling early identification of surplus food to ensure it is diverted for human consumption through FareShare.
This ultimately results in increased efficiency in the food industry and brings it with economic, social and environmental benefits. FareShare is a key player in making this happen.