Neighbourly Food, a new service designed to fix the logistical problem of re-distributing surplus food, has been selected by Marks and Spencer to support its national surplus food redistribution scheme.
The UK wastes 15m tonnes of food per year, according to a 2014 House of Lords report – at a cost of £5bn. The government has set a target of halving Britain’s food waste by 2025, and a petition urging supermarkets to deliver surplus food to charities and vulnerable people has now attracted over 180,000 signatures.
Neighbourly Food aims to solve both ends of the surplus food distribution challenge. The service allows local charities, food banks and surplus recycling operations to sign up, for free, to publicise their food requirements.
Businesses including retailers, supermarkets, grocers, manufacturers and food distributors are able to use the service to offer their surplus food resources, showing what’s available, its location for collection and expiry date.
Neighbourly Food aims to provide transparency to all participants so that the best possible use is made of the UK’s surplus food resources. Currently local charities and causes which need donations are often invisible to potential food donors, it says, while businesses lack a platform through which to find causes and then to manage their contributions with orderly and efficient processes.
These problems are compounded by the pressure of time, as a result of use-by dates on fresh food products.
In addition to matching food donations to causes, Neighbourly Food supports the back office logistical requirements of participating businesses to help them effectively manage and report upon their successes in food re-distribution.
Neighbourly Food has already been selected by Marks and Spencer to support its national surplus food redistribution scheme. The scheme will connect all its stores with local food charities and accelerate M&S towards its Plan A target of reducing food waste by 20% by 2020.