Food redistribution is rising significantly, WRAP report finds

Food redistribution is on the rise, despite 200,000 tonnes of surplus food still going uneaten, WRAP’s new report Surplus Food Redistribution In The UK 2015 – 2021 says.

WRAP says the latest figures for surplus food redistribution in the UK show that the amount of food saved from becoming waste continues to rise significantly, despite nearly 200,000 tonnes of surplus food still going uneaten and becoming waste in the supply chain each year.

Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is a charity that works with businesses, communities, and individuals to help achieve a circular economy. WRAP says the report shows a 16% increase in surplus food redistribution in 2021 because of the collective efforts of the UK’s retailers, food manufacturers, hospitality & food service businesses, and the voluntary sector.

In 2021 alone, the report says that more than 106,000 tonnes of surplus food – the equivalent of 253 million meals – were redistributed via charitable and commercial outlets with a value of more than £330 million.

In 2021, charities handled six times more surplus food than in 2015.

WRAP says the commercial sector took the bulk of surplus food from manufacturers in 2021, with retail the largest supplier to the charitable sector.

The hospitality & food service sector continues to increase the tonnage of surplus food it redistributes, the report also highlights.

The types of food redistributed remain similar according to the report, with the amount of fresh meat and fish, drinks and ambient food doubling between 2019 and 2021, while fresh produce, dairy, chilled pre-prepared and frozen food all fell in 2021, with bakery and chilled-prepared foods now lower than in 2019.

WRAP’s report follows a Food Standards Agency report highlighting the need to increase the amount of food redistributed, to ensure that as much surplus food is redistributed to people rather than going to waste.

Director Collaboration and Change at WRAP, Catherine David, said: “It’s devastating to see how much food continues to be wasted from supply chains when so many people are struggling to afford the basics, and food redistributors say they can take more.

“Whilst we welcome the increased amount of food being redistributed in the UK, we know there is a huge amount of good food – 200,000 tonnes of it every year – that could be feeding people. Wasting food also feeds climate change, as all the resources taken to produce the food are thrown in the bin with it.

“We urge all food businesses and their suppliers to adopt our guidance on redistribution as a priority and help more food get to the people who need it. The surplus food is there, and there is so much more that could be saved at this difficult time for UK families.”

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