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Grants support largest annual increase in surplus food redistribution

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WRAP, the UK’s leading sustainability charity, has reported a huge rise in surplus food redistribution during lockdown with the equivalent of more than 220 million meals worth of food prevented from going to waste by food businesses through partnerships with charitable and commercial redistributors, helped by funding from UK governments.

  • More than 92,000 tonnes of surplus food, worth £280 million – the equivalent of 220 million meals – redistributed in 2020.
  • Total food redistributed between 2015 and 2020 amounts to 320,000 tonnes, worth almost a billion pounds (£970 million) and equivalent to more than three quarters of a billion meals (760,000,000).
  • Since UK data were first reported (2015), redistribution has tripled. Two-thirds of the total increase in 2020 is from retail and manufacturing, while 23% came from Hospitality and Food Service and farms.
  • Chilled foods including fresh meat, fish, eggs, dairy and chilled pre-prepared items made up the largest proportion of surplus food in 2020 (29%), followed by ambient and drinks at 26% and fresh produce at 26%.

 
The report shows that charitable redistribution has increased 5.5-fold since records began and made up 70% of the total tonnage in 2020, with commercial redistribution showing a 1.6-fold increase since 2015. WRAP also found that while 80% of surplus food originates from retail and food manufacture, an increasing percentage came from the Hospitality and Food Service sector and farms in 2020 – approximately 12% of the total.

Unsurprisingly, surplus food arising due to Covid-19 related disruption to the supply chain contributed significantly to the increases in 2020, linked to around 38% of the total. However, the majority of the increase was unrelated to Covid-19 but driven by the expanding capacity and capabilities of redistribution organisations and continuing growth in the amounts of surplus food businesses are making available, all supported by the work of the Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group.

Grant-funding by Defra facilitated increases in availability, capacity and capabilities, potentially enabling over 50% of the increase in tonnage, and helping to lay the foundations for further increases in the future.

Marcus Gover, CEO WRAP, “Our report shows strong growth, but more needs to be done to meet Courtauld 2025 and UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 targets. We know there is the potential to more than double the amount of food redistributed so while I welcome these figures, I would ask all of those involved redouble their efforts and make full use of WRAP’s resources and support. While redistribution is an important tool, it is not the answer to food waste. Priority must be given to reducing surplus and waste in the first place. This is critical for business efficiency and essential if we are to achieve our environmental objectives.”

By December 2020, WRAP had awarded almost £7m to redistribution organisations in England under two government grant schemes: £3.8m through the COVID-19 Emergency Surplus Food Grant to not-for-profit organisations in England, and £3m under the Resource Action Fund Food Waste Prevention Grants to small- and large- scale projects in England.

For more information visit wrap.org.uk

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