The Federation of Wholesale Distributors is leading talks in a bid to mitigate the vast quantities of unused food

  • A source told The Grocer this level of wastage could cost the industry millions of pounds 

  • The group of industry leaders is looking at ways to re-distribute products

  • It is calling for measures such as the relaxation of labelling laws to allow the sale of goods to consumers 


Industry leaders are calling on the government to help prevent tens of thousands of tonnes of food intended for the hospitality industry from going to waste.

The call follows crisis talks led by Federation of Wholesale Distributors, bringing together supplier representatives and Defra officials this week to plan how to re-purpose stock intended for pubs, cafés, restaurants and schools. The group is looking at ways to re-distribute products.

The meeting came after a source told The Grocer that this level of wastage could cost the industry millions of pounds as stock sits in warehouses after the hospitality industry was forced to close following the government’s lockdown.

The newly formed steering group is calling for a number of measures to reduce the waste and provide some financial stability to the hospitality supply chain. These include the relaxation of labelling laws to allow the sale of goods to consumers and a further relaxation of competition laws to allow businesses to talk about stock levels and work collaboratively to manage short-shelf-life products.

“It’s a critical issue and FWD is delighted to be leading a group of food and trade associations to look at opportunities to divert excess stock to retailers, the NHS, vulnerable groups, and the public,” said FWD CEO James Bielby. “It’s a huge collaboration across the food industry supply chain and we’re looking at having a solution in place very quickly. Many FWD foodservice and on-trade members have been left with unsold stock as their hospitality customers have closed their doors, with working capital tied up in stock with a short shelf life. Suppliers are in a similar position, and challenges on packaging, labelling and formats make it hard to repurpose this product, even if the opportunity was there.”

“The food service sector has fallen off a cliff,” said Andrew Kuyk, director of the Provision Trade Federation (PTF).

“They are having to set up a retail operation from scratch and in some cases they have literally just a few days to sort this out of we are going to have a huge amount of waste on top of companies going to the wall which would be a tragedy.”

Kuyk added: “There are major issues facing companies when it comes to redirecting food. There are big issues around packaging, product sizes, specifications and labelling and in many cases these people simply don’t know where to find a retail buyer.”