Avoid food waste, address food poverty

“The WI calls on all supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food onto charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK”

Proposed by Snailbeach WI, Shropshire Federation

83% of delegates voted in support of the NFWIs 2016 resolution to ‘avoid food waste, address food poverty.’ The resolution calls on supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, as well as to pass surplus food on to charities to help address the issue of food poverty in the UK.

As a nation the UK wastes more food than anywhere else in Europe, costing the average household £470 per year. Farm land roughly the size of Wales is being used to produce all the food that then goes on to be wasted in our homes, generating the equivalent carbon emissions to one in four cars on our roads. And globally, if we managed to redistribute just a quarter of the food currently wasted, there would be enough food to feed the 870 million people living in hunger. Yet, despite encompassing social, economic and environmental issues, decisive action to tackle food waste has been slow.

Only a small percentage of food waste happens at supermarket level, however successive reports have found that supermarket practices are having an impact on the amount of food that is wasted up and down the supply chain. As a first step in the campaign, the NFWI wants retailers do more to help reduce food waste both in the home and at producer level. The NFWI is conducting a member survey and supermarket investigation to gain a better picture of the extent to which supermarkets are promoting these practices and their effect on food waste in WI members’ homes.

Get involved with our supermarket investigation:

  • Visit your local supermarket to help with our supermarket investigation. A downloadable copy of the survey can be found here. If you would like us to send a copy to you, please contact the public affairs team on 0207 371 9300 ext 238.

Avoid food waste, address food poverty: What would the NFWI like to achieve?

An enhanced voluntary framework:

The NFWI believes that existing voluntary agreements have the potential to go much further. The NFWI would like to see supermarkets committing to a range of measures that go above and beyond their current voluntary obligations, such as greater transparency in publicising their food waste statistics and an end to practices that contribute to food waste up and down the food chain, including appearance guidelines on fruit and veg.

Food to be used to feed people:

The NFWI is concerned that at present only 18% of food surplus fit for human consumption is redistributed to food charities, with the majority of the remainder being used for energy production. The NFWI believes that all good food should be redistributed for human consumption where possible.

The root of food poverty to be addressed:

The NFWI is calling for an end to hunger in the UK. Whilst emergency food aid such as food banks play an important role in helping alleviate the hardship of those in need, it is widely accepted that they do not address the underlying causes of food poverty or present a long term solution. The NFWI wants to see action at all levels to address both the causes and impacts of food poverty and will be exploring this issue throughout the campaign.