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Grocery supply chain can save millions from tackling food waste

Staff writer ▼ | May 18, 2016
New research from food waste prevention experts, WRAP, estimates that 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK grocery supply chain every year.
Food waste
Waste prevention   The report funded mainly by Defra and Welsh Government:
However, 0.7 million tonnes of material, which could have become waste, is either being redistributed to people (47,000 tonnes; the equivalent of 90 million meals a year) or diverted to animal feed.

Looking ahead, action to increase prevention of food waste could save businesses £300 million a year.

The report, Quantification of food surplus, waste and related materials in the grocery supply chain, funded mainly by Defra and Welsh Government, is the most comprehensive review of surplus food and food waste from UK food manufacturers and grocery retailers.

Not only does it highlight the overall avoidable food waste figures (1.1Mt) for the sector but, for the first time, breaks it down into manufacturing sub-sectors, such as meat and dairy.

It also shows that the food manufacturing and retail sectors in the UK are highly efficient, with less than 5% food surplus and waste, and that food waste levels are lower than previously reported.

While good progress has already been made in reducing food waste, the report identifies that a further 450kt of food waste a year could be prevented by 2025, a reduction of 23% compared to total food waste levels reported today.

Realising this potential, in particular preventing food from being wasted in the first place and increasing redistribution will be hugely challenging.

The research also identifies that of the current food surplus and waste, around 270kt may be suitable for redistribution.

Even after efforts to prevent food waste arising in the supply chain (potentially saving businesses £300 million a year), there will still be the opportunity to increase redistribution four-fold, to the equivalent of at least 360 million meals.

The amount of food surplus diverted to animal feed could also increase by up to 20%.