FareShare new image

The knock-on effects of the global supply chain crisis have resulted in a fall in supermarket surplus food donations, FareShare said

Surplus food donations from retailers have decreased in recent months as global supply chain challenges intensify and fuel and energy prices continue rising.

According to the UK’s biggest surplus food redistribution network, FareShare, global food chain disruptions – including rising fuel and commodity prices, labour shortages, the war in Ukraine and the fallout from Brexit – have resulted in a drop in donations from supermarkets in recent months.

FareShare redistributed just under 54,000 tonnes of food – or the equivalent of nearly 130 million meals – between April 2021 and March 2022. The figures were similar to the previous pandemic-hit year of 2021-21, when it redistributed 55,000 tonnes.

But now, the group said the “crippling” knock-on effects of the supply chain crisis had resulted in a fall in supermarket donations of around 200 tonnes a month when compared with previous years, with mixed chilled products taking the biggest hit.

“Retailers have been facing unprecedented levels of ‘out of stocks’ – we’ve all seen empty supermarket shelves,” said FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell.

“Our retail partners have been pushing more products to stores more quickly to try to maintain on-shelf availability, which has meant less surplus being available for FareShare and other redistributors to access.”

FareShare added that increased volumes from wholesale and produce over the same period have helped maintain overall surplus food volumes, but that supplying a mixed variety of food types to its charity partners had become more difficult.

Around 75% of the 9,500 charities and community groups FareShare supports have said the demand for surplus food is “as high as ever” due to the cost of living crisis.

In response to the drop in donations, FareShare’s CEO and its director of food, Simon Millard, are writing to the chief executives of all major food retailers, brands and umbrella bodies, to urge them to maximise efforts to get any surplus food to “those who need it most”.

They are also asking people working in the food industry to flag up any pockets of surplus food that could potentially be saved from going to waste.

The organisation has also called on the government to ramp up food redistribution funding so as to help FareShare’s network amid the cost of living crisis.

Earlier this week, FareShare, alongside 70 other charities and community organisations, signed an open letter to Conservative Party leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, urging them to commit to doing more to help low-income families this winter, who are facing a £1,600 shortfall with energy bills.

“The government has said they support FareShare, but that support has not translated to actual funding,” Boswell said.

“It should commit to funding food redistribution long term.”