A new report reveals that if 50% of edible surplus food was redistributed to charities it could save the government half a billion pounds per year.
The ‘Wasted Opportunity’ report, commissioned by FareShare and carried out by NEF Consulting, calculates the impact of current redistribution by the charity saves the UK economy approximately £51m per year. This is made up of £6.9m in social value to the beneficiaries themselves and £44m in saving to the state via the NHS, the criminal justice system, schools and social care.
But were FareShare and other redistribution organisations able to access around 10 times more edible surplus - around half of what it believes is available - it could increase that annual impact to £500m, according to the report.
“We have always known food is a catalyst for good and now we are able to evidence it,” says FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell. “The cost avoided by the state by charities serving up nutritious meals with FareShare food is a staggering £51m every year, and that’s with us accessing just 5% of the surplus food available. Imagine what we could do if we could get more of it.”
The report follows an announcement by Defra minister Michael Gove earlier this month of a £15m per year pilot fund to increase the redistribution of edible food to charities. Though it’s not yet known how the scheme may work in practice, with consultations between government, industry and charities ongoing, it’s hoped the funds will be used to mitigate some of the costs involved in separating, storing and transporting surplus. It follows months of lobbying by both FareShare and The Grocer’s Waste Not Want Not campaign for additional government funding to help build on the 43,000 tonnes of industry surplus currently redistributed, a fraction of the total.
In 2017/18 FareShare redistributed 17,000 tonnes of that surplus food, enough to create almost 37 million meals for nearly 10,000 charities, including homeless hostels, children’s breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges and community cafés - work that it is hoping to highlight to industry through the launch of its new Good Food Does Good campaign.
“We want to be clear - the food we redistribute is in date and good quality, just like the food you’d eat at home,” added Boswell. “That’s why we’re also launching our Good Food Does Good campaign, to show off our incredible fresh food and to celebrate the amazing businesses who are already giving us their surplus.”