Insights and action identified for food redistribution

27th March 2014

Today, food waste prevention experts WRAP, release the outcomes of two initiatives on food redistribution, providing invaluable insights that could help make more surplus food available to those that need it.

Firstly, WRAP trials have shown there is potential for supermarkets to redistribute their excess food at store-level, and secondly, new case studies and Guiding Principles from the Food Redistribution Industry Working Group (IWG) provide information and opportunity for action across the supply chain.  


The trials, detailed in the new report published today - The Food Connection Programme – is the UK’s first piece of quantitative research on store-level surplus food redistribution.
The research found that whilst tonnages of surplus food available at store level are small in comparison to the whole supply chain1, the volumes are sufficient to deliver real benefit to those who need it. The report also highlights that the barriers2 to rolling out redistribution from stores on a nationwide scale are still significant due to current capacity and resource limitations within both charity and retailer processes.

To deliver the programme’s trials WRAP worked in partnership with food redistribution and food waste charities, FareShare and FoodCycle – following existing *back of store redistribution activities and using that insight to broker relationships, match stores and charities, and develop service level agreements, tools and resources for retailers and charities to use, monitor, record and troubleshoot.

Information from the trials was shared with the Industry Working Group (IWG) to further inform the discussions taking place throughout the whole supply chain. The IWG brought together retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, charities and other industry bodies and collectively they have been able to share good practice and build on the good work already being undertaken3.

In order to help the sector do something now, the Food Connection Programme report identifies a number of ‘quick-win’ recommendations4, and the IWG has developed and published a number of good practice case studies and Guiding Principle which aim to help industry take action on surplus food redistribution across the supply chain, prioritise food waste prevention and communicate internally and externally their approach to redistributing surplus food.

Andy Dawe, Head of Food & Drink at WRAP, said: “Both the Industry Working Group and the trials were intended to build on the current good practice and better understand the challenges, and possible solutions, to make redistribution a more viable option for all involved.
“By drawing on the experiences and expertise of both the voluntary and business sectors, we now have a better understanding of the surpluses available at store level and are closer to overcoming some of the barriers to redistribution, both at store level and across the supply chain.
“The working group has laid the foundations which the whole sector can build upon. In order to realise many food waste prevention opportunities we now need to see more collaboration within the industry, and with charities, to expand on this good work and make more of this valuable food available to those that need it.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO, FareShare said: “The results of the trial show that redistributing surplus food from supermarkets directly to charities not only provides them with food but also saves them money.   At a time of such urgent need, this is incredibly important.
“While the majority of surplus food exists further up the supply chain, we are committed at FareShare to ensuring no good food goes to waste.
“The trial has also shown that to make this type of redistribution work, we need to invest a great deal of resources. I’m pleased to announce that we will have a team looking at this but in order to redistribute this food effectively and make sure we have a programme that is replicable across the country, we need the financial support of the food industry.”

Greg Sage Community Director at Tesco’s said: ‘We want to ensure that our surplus food goes to helping feed people in need. We are already working in partnership with FareShare on our Neighbourhood Food Collections and donations of surplus fresh food from our distribution centres and online grocery stores. We were delighted to have been involved in the WRAP trial. We would like to extend this work in the coming year, and we are working closely with FareShare and FoodCycle to achieve that’

Mary McGrath, CEO, FoodCycle, said: "For the last five years FoodCycle has been reclaiming supermarket back-of-store surplus food to turn into nutritious meals for those in need. From this we know the scale of this surplus, and that's why we were very willing to share our expertise with retailers and charities so that more perfectly edible food can reach vulnerable people in communities across the UK."

Andrew Young, Food Policy Development Manager at Co-operative said:’ We support WRAP’s guiding principles for redistributing surplus food and are constantly looking at ways to align our work to address this increasingly important issue. We aim to prevent food surpluses arising through our ongoing initiatives to tackle wastage in our supply chain and have doubled the amount of food we redistributed in 2013. We continue to work with FareShare and Company Shop as alternative routes for disposing of surplus food and we are currently looking for opportunities to extend this work’


Asda and FareShare overcome barriers to ownership and decision making processes (
               Tesco - in addition to their work to redistribute surplus from fresh Distribution Centres, Tesco shared work with FareShare to redistribute surpluses from dark stores – providing surpluses with more available shelf life than those arising at the back of their retail stores

4. Quick-win recommendations to help retailers take action on surplus food quickly (as identified in The Food Connection Programme report):
- Undertake a waste audit to understand what surpluses are regularly occurring and why.
- Understand your organisation’s policies around surplus food redistribution and/or use the Guiding Principles to Food Redistribution to help develop a policy.
- Encourage your organisation to adopt the Guiding Principles to Food Redistribution in order to prioritise the food waste hierarchy and communicate your approach to surplus food redistribution both internally and externally.
- If your organisation’s policy allows, identify local charities or hubs that could take your surpluses.
- Work with the charity to develop a Service Level Agreement and use the tools and resources in this report to develop agreements, collection notes and delivery notes so that you can track and trace food redistribution.
- Communicate and celebrate success of redistribution work and the positive impact this has from stores in their communities.

About WRAP
WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership to help businesses, individuals and communities improve resource efficiency. Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Follow us on Twitter at @WRAP_UK
About FoodCycle

FoodCycle builds communities by combining volunteers, surplus food, and spare kitchen spaces to create nutritious meals for people at risk from food poverty and social isolation. FoodCycle runs 18 volunteer-powered community projects across the UK, working to reduce food waste and to reduce food poverty and social isolation among vulnerable groups. FoodCycle is a registered charity no. 1134423. / / 020 7729 2775

About FareShare
• FareShare is a unique charity fighting hunger and its underlying causes by  providing food to more than 1,290 local charities and community organisations across the UK, including homeless shelters, children’s breakfast clubs, women’s refuge centres and luncheon clubs for the elderly, helping  to feed 62,200 people every day
• By working in partnership with the food industry, FareShare received 5,500 tonnes of food last year. The majority of this was surplus and would otherwise have gone to waste. This was mainly fresh produce, such as fruit, vegetables and meat
• Last year FareShare redistributed enough food for 12 million meals, saving each charity an average of £13,000 a year and food businesses 19,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions
• FareShare’s member charities prepare and serve the food onsite, offering their beneficiaries a hot, nutritious meal when they may otherwise go without