According to food distribution charities in the United Kingdom, hundreds of thousands of tons of safe-to-eat food might be going to waste as the nation’s supermarkets reportedly continue to cherry-pick who their suppliers may distribute excess food to.
Numerous independent charities under the Xcess network have stated that they are unable to obtain discarded edible food from processors and manufacturers due to the restrictive supermarket rules regarding the distribution of their own-label foodstuff.
As per research by sustainability group Anthesis, around 200,000 tons of own-label produce suited for human consumption supposedly ends up being used as animal feed or fuel to produce energy due to obstructions in delivering it to the right places.
Mark Game, CEO of the charity The Bread and Butter Thing, a food club that gives out highly discounted food packages to over 25,000 registered members, stated that retailers hold all the cards, and until they give permission to the manufacturers, the later cannot give out the food to charities.
David France, the manager of Eggcup, a Lancaster-based community food group, stated that it was impossible to obtain food without the approval of the retailers.
Last July, Wrap, a government-backed recycling organization, brought up the issue and released revised guidelines urging stores to reconsider restrictions that mostly limit the distribution of their unsold own-label products to two major charities, Company Shop and FareShare.
Wrap urged supermarkets to share details so that their suppliers are mandated to automatically give out excess food to a number of small-sized charities, like The Bread and Butter Thing, that have already cleared tests demonstrating that they meet set standards concerning food safety and redistribution.
Only Sainsbury's has updated its structure since then to allow all its own-label suppliers to give out food products straight to charities without having to sign multiple local agreements.
Presently, Asda and Tesco only allow suppliers to distribute surplus own-label food to small-sized charities through Company Shop and FareShare, or if FareShare audits them.
Morrisons permits its suppliers to hand out direct handouts to a larger number of selected groups. However, suppliers and charities argue they still have to strike individual deals instead of relying on a national mandate for easy access.