Food businesses are under the cosh at the moment. If it’s not Brexit and security about workforces then it is the apprentice levy and rising food prices in what is arguably the most competitive and professional food industry in the world.
However, there is never a wrong time to do the right thing. Last week’s announcement that the top 24 suppliers to Tesco will all publish their food waste data as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 (catchy name!) is definitely the right thing for one very simple reason; the first step of doing something about a problem is to measure it. What can’t be measured can’t be managed. And to go a stage further and share this information is changing the entire culture of the UK food industry around waste.
In a world where supply and demand sets the ground rules, there will always be surpluses. Often these are tiny percentages of some very big numbers. It’s only when we translate those small percentages into meals and portions that you’ll see there are opportunities to do good, or even great things with surplus food. That’s when the magic happens.
FareShare works with hundreds of food businesses, mostly in the supply chain, turning a small problem into a massive opportunity. And by helping them scrutinise their processes as well we often find our food partners are able to reduce the amount of surplus generated in the first place. We currently divert food to almost 7,000 charities and community groups, creating close to 30 million meals across the whole of the UK. We help feed almost half a million people every week. Yet this is done with less than 5% of the food that could be diverted to feed vulnerable people; and we have long waiting lists.
When food is short-dated or a mistake has been made, our food partners have a simple, pre-planned process for getting that food to people in need. And when you’re able to share stories from the charities who receive that food, and talk about the impact it’s made - this acts as a motivator to everyone who works in that business. Being proud of the difference your employer makes is a massive incentive to loyalty, productivity and happiness.
Lindsay Boswell is CEO of FareShare