Morrisons Fareshare

The increase meant FareShare could create an additional 29.5 million meals for those in need

The Grocer’s victory in securing government funding to pay for the cost of companies redistributing surplus food has led to a massive increase in help for the hungry, new figures this week revealed.

A year since FareShare launched its Surplus with Purpose Fund, backed by funding won from Defra, it announced it had seen an increase in the amount of food reaching charities – from 14,494 tonnes to 27,740 tonnes.

Of the 13,246-tonne increase,12,429 tonnes had become accessible because of the Surplus with Purpose Fund, accounting for more than 80% of the increase.

In October 2018, then-environment secretary Michael Gove announced £15m in funding to tackle the issue of the cost of redistributing waste, with FareShare one of those benefiting.

It came after months of campaigning by The Grocer, with our Waste Not Want Not campaign exposing how the high costs of food redistribution had made it unaffordable for many startup brands or SMEs. It had been costing businesses up to £100 per tonne to separate, store and transport surplus food.

This week FareShare said as a a direct result of the funding, it had signed up over 300 more UK farmers, growers, and manufacturers to divert their surplus, preventing nearly 50,000 kg of carbon emissions.

The increase meant it was able to create an additional 29.5 million meals for those in need, saving charities £7.9m in cash.

Pressure is now growing on the government to make the trial funding permanent. A report on Covid-19 and food supply from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee calls for government to “fund FareShare’s efforts to redistribute food from the farmgate to frontline community groups” in the aftermath of the crisis. 

The charity has called for the funding to be extended – saying £5m per year would enable it to get enough fresh food to double the amount of food delivered to charities supporting those need in the aftermath of this crisis.

FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell told The Grocer: “A year on from the launch of our Surplus with Purpose fund, these figures show the results are, as we predicted, really staggering.

“One of the things that The Grocer’s campaign recognised was that we needed a level playing field in terms of dispersal.

“We are now pushing really hard to say to the government this trial has realy worked and for at least the next couple of years, because of this terrible pandemic, there is going to be a massive demand.”

This week, Tesco is holding an extra summer food collection in support of food redistribution charities on the back of a massive surge in demand in the wake of the pandemic.