A leading charity in the battle against food poverty this week defended retailers after a report by MPs accused them of contributing to hunger among the poor.
The report, Feeding Britain, written by an all-party group of MPs and backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, urged supermarkets to do more to ensure surplus food went to tackle food poverty. Its authors accused supermarkets of creating “immoral” levels of waste.
However, Lindsay Boswell, CEO of food redistribution charity FareShare, said he was “frustrated” supermarkets were being demonised when there had been a huge surge in support from retailers.
The Grocer revealed in September that donations from supermarkets had more than doubled in the previous two years. Boswell said: “It’s extremely frustrating that supermarkets are used as shorthand for the whole of the food industry, whereas it has been the supermarkets predominantly who are doing a lot more - particularly Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.”
The report included shocking evidence of waste, including nearly 10,000 Cornish pasties rejected by Morrisons because a supply truck turned up 17 minutes late. In another incident, 10 tonnes of tomatoes from Kent were declined by Tesco because they were too big.
The report placed an unfair expectation on retailers, Boswell said. “It’s plain wrong to suggest supermarkets can even begin to address poverty in the UK.”
Andrew Opie, BRC director of food and sustainability, added surplus retail food redistribution only made a “small contribution to alleviating poverty”.