Retailers have redirected 22,000 tonnes (t) of food to charitable purposes, including food banks, community centres, and schools, by partnering with FareShare, a network of charitable food redistributors.
According to an analysis by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and FareShare, more than 8,000 charities benefitted from the scheme, providing almost one million people with 57 million meals in 2022-23.
Including surplus from shops and distribution centres, FareShare redistributed more than 1,000t of food donated directed by supermarket customers through the retailers’ donation boxes.
Surplus donated from food retailers also helps to cut waste and reduce unnecessary carbon emissions from the production and transport of food.
In total, it is estimated that these partnerships have helped prevent more than 15,000t of carbon dioxide equivalent from being wasted.
Food waste is a highly emotive issue for many consumers, who are motivated by environmental and ethical factors.
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BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented: “The work by FareShare and major food retailers is supporting households around the country at a difficult time.”
FareShare CEO George Wright added: “We simply would not be able to support our network of charities and community groups without supermarkets. This food is crucial at a time when millions are being forced into food insecurity, and also acts as a gateway to other services, supporting people facing isolation and loneliness, and strengthening the local community.”
Earlier this year, the BRC reported that retailers across the UK raised £200m for charitable causes through fundraising, with an additional £150m donated directly by the businesses themselves.