A £5m government fund has opened to substantially reduce food waste from farm-to-fork as part of a multi-million pound pilot scheme.
Food redistribution organisations in England will be able to bid into a £5 million pot to help them overcome the financial barrier to redistributing surplus food which is currently going to waste but which could be redistributed.
It’s the first part of a £15 million scheme announced last year by Defra Secretary Michael Gove to specifically address surplus food from farm-to-fork.
Currently around 43,000 tonnes of surplus food is redistributed from retailers and food manufacturers every year.
It is estimated a further 100,000 tonnes of food - equating to 250 million meals a year - is edible and readily available but goes uneaten.
Instead, this food is currently sent away for generating energy from waste, anaerobic digestion, or animal feed.
According to government statistics, £13 billion worth of food was wasted in the UK in 2015, approximately 7.3 million tonnes.
Approximately one third of this waste stems from food producers, one third from retailers and one third from households.
The fund is open to organisations that receive surplus food to distribute to those who have a need in England. Applicants will need to show how they will help food businesses reduce their surplus in the long term.
The new scheme follows government’s £500,000 Food Waste Reduction Fund to support the substantial reduction of food waste throughout England.
The government has also recently appointed philanthropist Ben Elliot as Food Surplus and Waste Champion to help promote awareness of the issue and help drive down food waste from all sources.
Food businesses interested in redistributing surplus food can contact their local redistribution organisation to see how they can help. The grant closes on the 20 February 2019.
Farming organisations such as the NFU, Soil Association and AHDB have announced their support in cutting food waste.
The NFU is encouraging farmers to play their part in tackling food waste in the supply chain.
NFU President Minette Batters said: “Farmers are the first step in the supply chain, producing the raw ingredients that make up the safe, traceable and affordable domestic food supply that helps to feed the nation.
“As food producers, farmers and growers have a clear role to play in this effort and it is encouraging to see many of our members already committing to cutting food waste in their businesses.
“It’s very clear that a whole supply chain effort is required to effectively reduce our food waste and it is incredibly positive to see the entirety of the industry throw its weight behind this initiative.”
She added: “The NFU is committed to sustainability and transparency, and will continue to engage with the industry to address the food waste challenge.”