King Charles _2532

The King rocked up at a Felix Project depot this week in his Roller, to be greeted not only by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, but Tesco CEO Ken Murphy, Waitrose boss James Bailey, Hannah Gibson from Ocado, and Felix Project founder Justin Byam Shaw, joined by its chair, ex-Premier Foods CEO Gavin Darby, the ex-Premier Foods CEO, and Lord Lebedev (or Baron Lebedev of Hampton in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Siberia in the Russian Federation to give him his full title), the son of a former KGB spy and proprietor of the Evening Standard, of which Byam Shaw is the chairman. So, a motley crew. With the estate crawling with police and the royal press rota in tow, it was certainly a hive of activity. There was even a Gorillas (opposite) and Gopuff (next door) on the estate too.

It was good to see the King take such an active interest in food poverty. As a passionate advocate for the environment, he will be pleased to see organic food sales are up again. As a passionate supporter of British food, he will be concerned at further evidence of declining UK food production. But his interest in food has widened to how the cost of living crisis is affecting his people. And that’s a good thing. After visiting a food bank in Milton Keynes last week, this trip to The Felix Project’s East End depot was to ‘unveil’ a freezer, one of 800 he’s helping to fund via a donation from the Prince of Wales Charitable Fund.

It’s also good to see the food industry stepping up to the plate. As we reveal in this week’s Goodness issue, new research from Cambridge University shows supermarkets have launched more than 70 initiatives between them since the “winter of hunger” began. But no matter how the food industry has upped donations to record levels, it’s not been enough to meet soaring demand.

And it’s compounded by government subsidies of £650m to send surplus food to anaerobic digestion plants. The result is that huge amounts of good food is directed away from charities and some of the 13 million people in food insecurity [the Food Foundation] who need it.

Surely human consumption is a better social, economic and environmental outcome than anaerobic digestion? We need some of those incentives redirected towards subsidising food redistribution, after the government scandalously pulled the plug on the already watered down £1m subsidy it gave to FareShare following The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not campaign. Let’s hope that, with M&S commercial director George Wright on board as FareShare’s new CEO, the government can be persuaded to change tack.