£500,000 will help local charities provide the equivalent of six million meals to people in need as food redistribution rates rise sharply

16th July 2018

Eight charities and not-for-profit groups will receive grants from the Government’s £500,000 Food Waste Reduction Fund, administered by WRAP, to provide essential resources needed to expand their important work. The eight organisations were chosen from 119 expressions of interest to the Fund and range from small to larger sized multi-site operations, located across England from Devon to County Durham. Individual grants range from £40,000 to £75,000, which together will help the eight redistribute an additional 2,500 tonnes of quality food to feed people in need – the equivalent of around six million meals*.

Today’s announcement coincides with a new report from WRAP showing a significant upsurge in the amount of surplus food handled by charitable and commercial redistribution organisations, in the UK.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “Congratulations to the eight groups which have received grants to aid their crucial work. Today’s announcement is a glowing example of the UK showing global leadership in measuring food waste and supporting food waste prevention projects.

“We’ve made good progress in tackling this problem, showing what can be achieved when the government and retailers work together. But there is more to do and this fund will help us waste less food and ensure more people in need get good quality meals.”

The latest WRAP research shows that surplus food redistribution from retailers, manufacturers and hospitality and food services businesses increased by 50% in just two years. WRAP’s report covers 2015 - 2017 and analyses data provided by the UK’s largest redistribution bodies; accounting for the majority of all surplus food handled. Specifically, the report reveals:

  • Charitable redistribution rose by around 80% over the two-year period, with an increase of 30% via commercial organisations. 
  • The combined increase for charitable and commercial redistribution (14,500 tonnes or 50%) represents the equivalent of around an extra 35 million meals a year, bringing the 2017 total equivalent to 102 million meals.
  • The value of the food redistributed in 2017 was almost £130 million, with the increase from 2015 to 2017 worth over £40 million. 
  • The manufacturing sector was the largest single source of redistributed food in 2017, followed by retail. 
  • The supply of surplus food from the retail sector to charities has more than doubled (114% increase - the equivalent of an additional 15 million meals), and that from manufacture increased by 71% (the equivalent of an additional 7 million meals).

Table: Tonnes of surplus food redistributed by type of organisation and year, 2015-2017

Organisation201520162017% change 2015 to 2017
 Charitable 11,655 18,371 20,935 80%
 Commercial 16,900 18,380 22,099 31%
 Total 28,555 36,751 43,034 51%

Retail is the largest supplier to the charitable redistribution sector, supplying 50-60% of the total surplus food, with the manufacturing sector supplying 30-40%. The remainder comes from the hospitality and food service sector, and other sources such as logistics and wholesale. 

As part of this announcement, WRAP has amended the 2015 baseline for UK redistribution. The 2015 estimate for redistribution has reduced substantially from 47,000 tonnes (published in 2016) to around 28,500 tonnes. This is due to both improvements to the research methodology, and to more robust and granular data from redistribution organisations. ***

Peter Maddox, Director WRAP said “It’s great to see such a rapid rise in redistribution and the growing number of partnerships between the supply chain and charities. This stops good food going to waste, and helps feed people. But we know there’s much more to do. Our research shows food redistributed, from manufacturers and retailers, could increase further, by more than 200,000 tonnes. 

“There’s potential too to source greater amounts of surplus food from other parts of the supply chain like primary production, and the hospitality and food service sector. Our Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group is helping to forge new links and supports both businesses and redistribution organisations in ensuring surplus food feeds people, first. Businesses signatories have committed to doubling the amount they redistribute by 2020. Seeing these numbers, I am confident they will hit that target.” 

Subject to contract, the eight charities and not-for-profit groups receiving grants will demonstrate what can be achieved (encouraging others to follow suit) with the Working Group sharing best practice. They include: 

  • Action Homeless in Leicester – to upscale its current activities through investment to improve project co-ordination and logistics. The grant will help to hire a part-time food coordinator, purchase a new vehicle to redistribute food, lease a shared storage unit and improve facilities overall.
  • His Church in London / the Midlands / the North West and North East – to expand current activities in all these locations and set up more programmes for children and families. The grant will be spent on developing facilities for collection and storage, and for purchasing a walk-in chiller and refrigerated van. 
  • FareShare in two centres in southern England – to run a pilot project to expand freezer capacity at both FareShare depots in the South of England and redistribute more frozen food. The grant will help purchase a walk-in freezer, chest freezers and pay for additional staffing and transport costs.
  • FareShare Yorkshire – to purchase a 7.5-ton lorry as well as cover its maintenance and additional staff costs, including training. The new vehicle will be used to intercept larger quantities of food that cannot currently be collected. 
  • Feedback Global in Southwest & Southeast England – to establish a community-led gleaning network to increase the number of days they can glean by an extra 36 days per year. The funding will cover staff costs including an outreach manager and two coordinators, and costs associated with running the gleaning days (equipment and volunteer expenses). 
  • Food in Community in South Hams Devon – to build on the community interest company’s successful Totnes scheme and introduce a range of activities in Newton Abbot. These include opening a Pay-As-You-Feel café, piloting a surplus produce delivery scheme, gleaning activities and cookery courses. The grant will allow the organisation to purchase an electric van, with staff costs, and IT equipment. 
  • Nuneaton & Bedworth Healthy Living Network in Warwickshire – to allow the charity to double the number of community groups it services to 280, and double the number of breakfast clubs it runs. The grant will help with staff costs, increase warehouse capacity, and purchase a walk-in fridge-freezer.
  • REfUSE Durham in County Durham – to turn a recently acquired warehouse space into a food redistribution hub and increase the capacity for its existing operations. The social enterprise can now introduce new projects to benefit the local community including a Pay-As-You-Feel café with manager and staff, and purchasing a walk-in fridge-freezer.

Notes to editor 

*Based on the assumption of an average meal weighing 420g (based on the average of a range of typical meal weights, using data derived from Food Portion Sizes, FSA 2008). This does not imply that this many balanced meals could be made from the food surplus, but illustrates what the amount of food surplus might equate to.

**Examples of innovative redistribution models include…

o Aldi food waste prevention 

o Asda, FareShare and the Trussell Trust

o Birdseye 

o The Compass Group/Plan Zheroes

o Co-Op community groups 

o Central England Co-op

o Culina and FareShare 

o FoodCloud 

o Lidl Feed it Back network 

o Morrisons FareShare milestone

o M&S surplus food donations 

o Neighbourly

o Nestlé and Company Shop 

o Ocado Food Waste Fight

o OLIO’s Food Waste Heroes 

o Puffin Produce and FareShare 

o Sainsbury’s Living Well for Less 

o Tesco Community Food Connection 

o Waitrose redistribution IT platform 

o Plan Zheroes food donation platform

*** In the restatement of tonnage redistributed in 2015, circa 70% of the tonnage difference resulted from the removal of data on non-food products (for example home and personal care items) from data supplied by one of the redistribution organisations. 

Surpluses can arise for many reasons such as food incorrectly labelled, over-ordered, over-supplied or obsolete seasonal stock. WRAP is working with retailers and manufacturers, logistics and redistribution organisations, together with industry bodies, to identify ways of increasing the beneficial use of surplus food. 

The Courtauld 2025 Surplus Food Redistribution Working Group was established in 2016 to address the challenge of increasing the amounts of food surplus redistributed. This is being done through the development of strategies for long term high impact solutions, sharing best practice, identifying barriers and opportunities, overseeing the creation of new resources and research, and approaches to monitoring progress. 

Commercial redistribution businesses primarily redistribute surplus food for profit. Charitable and social redistribution organisations primarily redistribute food in order to fulfil social or environmental objectives and do not make a profit.

First established in 2000, WRAP is a not for profit organisation which works with governments, businesses and citizens to create a world in which we source and use resources sustainably. 

Our impact spans the entire life-cycle of the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the products we buy, from production to consumption and beyond.