Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Food & Hunger

Food Waste Sharing Is Up Nearly 60% in Just 1 Year, Says Leading UK Charity

Britain’s largest food redistribution charity has revealed that it has fed a record number of people in the past year with food that would have otherwise gone to waste. 

FareShare fed 772,000 people every week in 2017-2018, up from 484,000 last year — an increase of 59%. 

The charity saves food from manufacturers, retailers, processors, and farmers, and redistributes it to nearly 10,000 frontline charities, including women’s refuges, homeless shelters, and care homes. 

Take action: Tweet Starbucks Asking Them to Donate 100% of Unused Food to Charity in the UK

The food it rescued from being wasted has increased by a quarter, from 13,552 tonnes to 16,992 tonnes, according to figures released on Monday. The food has an annual value of £28.7 million, up from £22.4 million the year before. 

“It’s great to see the food industry working with us so we can redistribute their food surpluses to more frontline charities,” said FareShare’s chief executive, Lindsay Boswell. 

She highlighted the positive moves being made by some of the country’s leading supermarkets, including Tesco taking off “best before” stickers on fruit and veg, and Asda’s “incredibly generous” support of FareShare and the Trussell Trust through its Fight Hunger Create Change programme.

But she warned that the work being done is not yet enough. 

Read more: This Country Is Leading the World in Ending Food Waste

“The alarm bell going off in our new statistics is that FareShare still only redistributes a tiny proportion — just 5% — of the available 270,000 tonnes of surplus food,” she added. “There’s shedloads of good food going to anaerobic digestions plants, being turned into animal feed, or simply going to landfill.” 

One in 8 people in the UK go hungry every day, yet 15 million tonnes of food are still being wasted annually. Around 7 million of this is from households, according to the government’s waste and resources action plan (WRAP), with the average household throwing away £700 worth of edible food every year. 

FareShare said that the food being wasted is enough to provide more than 600 million meals every year. 

The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, reported in November 2017 that it had seen a 30% rise in demand in some parts of the UK in the seven months since April.

Read more: 3 Changes You Should Make to Your Diet to Eat More Sustainably

FareShare is aiming to be able to redistribute 100,000 tonnes of food annually. In March, it launched a petition as part of its "Feed People First" campaign, calling on the government to introduce a fund to offset the costs of repacking, harvesting, transporting, storage, and handling, which it said could save UK charities £150 million, according to the Guardian

The petition gathered more than 16,000 signatures, and a government response is expected in July. 

Boswell held up France as an excellent example to follow to help cut down food waste. In 2015, France became the first country to ban edible food waste from supermarkets, instead forcing stores to donate the food to charities. 

Read more: This New Juice Range Uses Ugly Fruit and Veg to Cut Waste

France currently saves 100,000 tonnes of surplus food from being wasted every year, and redistributes it to people in need. 

“So come on food industry, this is what you need to do, too,” Boswell added. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which include action on ending hunger and malnutrition, and creating cities and communities that are sustainable. You can join us by taking action on these issues here.