Today’s announcement by Wrap that 40 retailers and suppliers, backed by a further 100 organisations, under Courtauld 2025, have pledged to double the amount of food they send for redistribution is not only a victory for The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not campaign, which we launched eight months ago, but also testament to the huge amount of work companies have done since to raise their game.

The pledges made by those 40 companies alone, if met, will double the amount of food they alone redistribute (from a 2015 baseline) to at least 30,000 tonnes within the next four years.

To put it into context that would represent an astonishing 60 million extra more meals, with a price tag of £60m per year, available to be donated to charities by the likes of FareShare, handed out to those in need or quite simply sold at a cut price to any consumer who wants to eat perfectly good food rather than chuck it in the bin.  

According to experts at Wrap the move represents a “tipping point” in the battle against food waste, who say they can now list case study after case study showing how the leading supermarkets have upped their efforts to tackle waste and make sure that when there is surplus food, wherever possible, it ends up going to those in need, not buried in the ground or sent to AD plants.

In fact this ground-breaking commitment follows a flurry of landmark moments since we first launched Waste Not Want Not, with Tesco committing to end surplus food waste by the end of this year, Sainsbury’s revealing its food waste data for the first time, a global standard for measuring food waste reached at UN level, the launch of a parliamentary inquiry into industry waste, and the deployment of a new food waste app by Tesco, Sainsbury’s and as of only last week Waitrose, to name but a few.

Yet the battle is far from over and The Grocer believes that today’s good news needs to be treated as a significant step on the long road to combating food waste rather than a destination. Not least because in other areas the news remains as grim. Just today the European Court of Auditors slammed the EU’s record on food waste and said it must do more to tackle waste across the supply chain. And right here at home Wrap has quite rightly pointed out that retailers seem to be doing far more than their fair share of heavy lifting, with manufacturers hiding in the background.

Since launching our campaign we’ve found a few star performers among suppliers masking a seemingly apathetic attitude among the majority, with shockingly few signing up to our campaign despite 89%, or 1.7 million tonnes, of food being wasted before it reaches the supermarket shelves, and only around a third of Wrap’s 2025 signatories from manufacturing too (despite outnumbering them).  

In fact we believe if more businesses higher up the supply chain engaged fully in food waste we could hit our target to double redistribution even sooner than the target signed up to today by the Wrap signatories. It’s an area we’ll explore in more detail in next week’s issue, in which we’ll outline key trouble spots. We’ll also be using next week’s issue to announce The Grocer’s first-ever webinar, focusing on manufacturing food waste and featuring some of the biggest success stories in the industry.

Ultimately though we’re thrilled at Wrap’s announcement and will continue to campaign for the industry as a whole to double the amount it redistributes, to 100,000 tonnes, or 100 million additional meals a year, not by 2020 but by the end of 2018.

It’s undeniably ambitious but it can be done. Just look at what we’ve achieved so far.