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The Grocer is today launching a major campaign to help reduce the staggering levels of food waste in the food and drink industry.

A landmark report from Wrap, released this morning, has detailed for the first time the amount of food retailers and manufacturers throw away every year.

It has found just 47,000 tonnes (or 1.78%) out of the 2.64 million tonnes of surplus and waste food the industry accounts for is redistributed for human consumption.

“There’s a huge amount of perfectly edible food and drink that is either incinerated or goes to landfill, and that cannot be right”

Adam Leyland, The Grocer

With a further 662,000 tonnes of waste used for animal feed, Wrap’s report calculates that 1.9 million tonnes (or 73%) of all food and drink waste generated by supermarkets and their suppliers is thrown away.

And 1.1 million tonnes (or 56%) of this waste is ‘avoidable’, it claims.

See also: Tesco’ Community Food Connection redistribution programme helping to reduce waste

The Grocer’s new campaign, Waste Not Want Not, is seeking to unite the industry, and to lobby the government, to achieve a greater reduction in food and drink waste, and to increase the amount of edible food that is redistributed to feed needy people.

Our campaign has three central aims:

  • For the industry to more than double the current amount of food sent for redistribution to 100,000 tonnes, which equates to 100 million extra meals, by 2018.
  • For the government to incentivise the industry to redistribute edible food, in exactly the same way it encourages the use of anaerobic digestion, to help achieve this.
  • To encourage greater engagement, transparency and co-operation among retailers and their suppliers in reducing waste and increasing food redistribution.

Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer, said: “We understand waste is part of life. No-one in the industry likes wasting food. But there’s a huge amount of perfectly edible food and drink that is either incinerated or goes to landfill, and that cannot be right. The food and drink industry is in a unique position to effect positive change. And it needs to redouble its efforts not only to reduce waste, in line with Courtauld 2025 targets, but to prioritise food redistribution wherever humanly possible.

See also: How to pledge your support for our campaign

“We want the industry to work towards the goal that any edible food – that cannot be sold by retailers and manufacturers for whatever reason – should be used to feed people ahead of any other purpose. And we want the government to incentivise the industry, so that even where it is not the easiest option, at least there is not a financial penalty for doing the right thing.”

“We all need to work towards a common aim across the supply chain”

Tom Rumboll, Company Shop

Wrap’s report calculates that as much as 270,000 tonnes may be suitable for redistribution, including 37,000 tonnes currently used to produce animal feed, 190,000 tonnes going to waste as well as the 47,000 tonnes already being redistributed.

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, was the first to lend his support to The Grocer’s campaign.

“We think the true figure [on how much food could be redistributed] is probably higher [than the Wrap estimate] but that’s slightly dancing on the head of a pin. We’ve been calling for years for there to be a number placed out there because until you measure it, nobody does anything about it. The report has shown it’s a heck of a lot and what we’d love to do is work with the food industry and The Grocer to try and really create a culture change.”

Other organisations who’ve already pledged to back The Grocer’s campaign include Company Shop.

“Increasing the amount of food that is redistributed across the supply chain will be driven by broad collaboration,” says Tom Rumboll, commercial director of Company Shop. “Retailers and manufacturers want to minimise waste, minimise cost and maximise the social value of their work. We all need to work towards a common aim across the supply chain.”

Richard Swannell, Wrap director, said the report had shown that the food and drink industry was “a very efficient sector but there is also huge scope for us to become more efficient and frankly to become world leading. The Grocer is the voice of the sector and can be very influential in achieving change.”

This weekend’s issue of The Grocer will detail our campaign in full.

We also want you to get involved in the Waste Not Want Not campaign. Send us an email to:

  • Pledge your support
  • Explain why you are supporting our campaign
  • Tell us how you or your company have either reduced waste or plan to do so
  • Act as a whistleblower for unnecessary waste

You can also show your support on Twitter by using the hashtag #wastenotwantnot, and visit our campaign page.

This article is part of our major Waste Not Want Not campaign, which you can read more about here.