The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) made the announcement in a report it published, today (22 January), entitled ‘Food security demand, consumption and waste’.

Due to the Government’s Spending Review, WRAP has seen its funding cut from £48.1m in 2010-11 to £17.6m in 2014-15. Funding for 2015-16 is anticipated to be £15.5m. However, WRAP has recently achieved charitable status, which could allow it access to wider funding such as from trusts and charities.

‘Love Food Hate Waste’

WRAP has run food reduction campaigns such as ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ to provide advice to consumer, retailers and local authorities to tackle the 15m tonnes of food that is wasted each year in the UK.

Supporting the work of WRAP to tackle this, EFRA is calling on the Government to provide WRAP with “sufficient public funding” so that “alongside investment from other sources such as trusts and charities, it has adequate resources to enable it to maintain momentum in its food waste reduction programmes”.

EFRA launched its inquiry into food security last year, with the aim of finding out how the UK’s food “can be sourced sustainability, how food waste can be reduced in the home and how the waste that is produced can be dealt with responsibly”.

Despite progress on reducing waste, WRAP told EFRA that there was still a “lot more” that could be done. WRAP chief executive Liz Goodwin told the Committee that “every £1 of public money spent on programmes to reduce household food waste generated £250 worth of savings in the home”.

She said that while “clearly I could say we could do more if I had more resources … there are also a lot of resources being put in by others” including retailers including retailers as part of a collective effort.

In response to the report, a Defra spokeswoman told “The Government has a responsibility to ensure we make the best use of public funding.

“With this in mind we are pleased that we have been able to continue to support WRAP’s hugely successful programme encouraging businesses, local authorities and the public to become more efficient in the way we use energy, water and raw materials.

“Already WRAP has achieved savings of £1.5 billion since 2007 through its successful Love Food Hate Waste (LFHW) campaign, which has helped thousands of UK households address food waste.”

Elsewhere, the report recommends that Defra should appoint a food security co-ordinator to help combat food waste. The role of a food security co-ordinator would be to bring together key agencies to develop effective systems to distribute far greater volumes of food that would otherwise go to waste.

It also calls on food retailers and Government to do more to help consumers to choose healthy food options from sustainable sources.

‘Joined-up national approach’

The Committee report also recommends that Defra should lead a joined-up national approach that saves and redistributes surplus food from all parts of the supply chain.

Elsewhere, the report also highlights work undertaken by retailers such as Morrisons and Tesco to reduce food waste by developing effective distribution, storage and retail operations.

Tesco reported that it had reduced waste to less than 1% of products in its stories and distribution centres, the report states. Morrisons also had low levels of such waste, at 0.3% of sales value in its stores.

Nonetheless, food charity FareShare noted that even tiny percentages of waste from food companies with large-scale systems could represent a significant amount of food wasted.

Commenting on the report, Mark Game, managing director of Company Shop – the UK’s largest redistributor of surplus food – said: “We support the Committee’s recommendation that a task force on food redistribution – consisting of industry bodies, retailers, charities and food manufacturers – is set up. The Food Redistribution Industry Working Group previously provided this, but ended almost a year ago.

“Reviving a group of this nature will again bring organisations and businesses from across the food supply chain together. This will build the relationships needed so that we all continue to reduce waste and tackle food surpluses sustainably and collaboratively.”

The publication follows the British Retail Consortium’s report unveiled earlier this week, which revealed the combined food waste figures of the UK’s top seven supermarkets.

The BRC states that the retail sector wastes 200,000 tonnes of food per year, equating to only 1.3% of the 15m tonnes of food wasted each year in total.

Liz Gyekye

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