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Food Matters

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

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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.

FOOD MATTERS:

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”

Snailbeach WI, Shropshire Federation, 2016 Annual Meeting Resolution.

Why are we campaigning?

The Food Matters campaign was launched following discussion at the 2016 Annual Meeting where the WI passed a resolution to ‘avoid food waste, address food poverty.’ 83% of delegates supported the resolution which 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 food poverty.

What is the issue?

Food waste is all around us; globally it is estimated that 222 million tonnes of food is wasted every year. This is happening at a time when an estimated 8.4 million people in the UK do not have enough to eat, with 4.7 million unable to afford a basic meal a day. It follows an economic recession during which time food prices have increased by 8%, and food bank use has increased 40 fold. Meanwhile, ‘multi-buy’ deals on perishables and confusing date labelling have been blamed for increased food waste in the home. Grading standards and ‘appearance guidelines’ set by retailers mean farmers often have to plough good food back into their fields or use it as animal feed.

The NFWI campaign so far.

The first stage of the Food Matters campaign focuses on the issue of food waste, and the role supermarkets can play in reducing food waste at all levels of the supply chain. The second stage of the campaign will focus on the issue of food poverty.

At store level, supermarkets are only responsible for a fraction of the food wasted in the UK, yet their marketing and selling techniques have been identified by the media, food charities and Parliamentary committees as causing food waste up and down the food supply chain.

With their links to suppliers, consumers, and farmers in the UK and around the world, supermarkets are in a powerful position to lead the fight against food waste.

The NFWI wanted to test whether or not WI members, as a powerful lobby of customers and consumers, felt supermarket practices were contributing to food waste in the home – and what retailers could do to help alleviate this.

Over 5000 WI members responded to two surveys conducted by the NFWI in autumn 2016.The first survey asked for individual member views on issues such as date labelling and multi-packs. The second survey saw members visit their local supermarket to investigate practices on the supermarket shelves. A report and campaign action pack will be published at the end of March and will include details of the findings, the NFWI’s key campaign asks, and ideas for how WI members can get involved.  

Get involved!
  • Request a copy of our campaign action pack: The NFWI has developed a campaign action pack which lays out the findings of our survey and has ideas of how you can get involved with our campaign. Request a copy of the pack using the contact details below.
  • Save the date for our food waste weekend of action: The 19th-21st May is the WI’s food waste weekend of action to draw attention to our key campaign asks. Further details will be in the campaign action pack, or get in touch using the details below.

Get in touch!