From the streets of Paris to the fields of France
When Canal+ approached the Feedback team proposing a Feeding the 5000 event – Banquet des 5000 – in Paris to launch Global Gachis, a food waste documentary featuring Feedback founder Tristram Stuart, little did we know that the event would create an avalanche of public awareness and action on food waste in France and globally and would be one of our most successful ever.
The event enjoyed spectacular press coverage in outlets as varied as Le Monde, Grazia and Liberation, and propelled food waste from a marginal issue in France, onto centre stage. One concrete outcome of Feeding the 5000 Paris was the catalytic impact on the Disco Soupe movement. A small and innovative group of people planning cool food surplus parties was brought to national attention by the Disco Soupe in Paris’ Hotel de Ville which preceded the main feast. As a result, Disco Soupe exploded into a national movement and a veritable global phenomenon – Disco Soupe events became a regular feature of our Feeding the 5000 events and more than 40 Disco Soupe groups now operate across France and around the globe.
“Feeding the 5000 has been instrumental in the expansion and building of the Disco Soupe nationwide movement in France. Thanks to the first Feeding the 5000 in October 2012 in Paris, we attracted national media attention and started to receive demands from all over the country from people that wanted to be part of the movement. At the end of 2013, there had been more than a hundred Disco Soupe events in 50 towns around France.” Bastien Beaufort, Founder of Disco Soupe
Months after the Paris event, additional and very successful Feeding 5000 events followed in Nantes and Marseilles. The first ever gleaning in France was organised in the run up to Feeding the 5000 Nantes to source food for the day’s big stew. This was the catalyst for the establishment of the French gleaning network, still operating strong to this day, saving thousands of kilos of fruit and vegetables from farms across France.
As a result of Feeding the 5000 Paris, Feedback was invited by the French Agri-food Minister Guillaume Garot to advise on and strengthen the development of the government’s National Food Waste Pact, a multi-stakeholder group that met regularly to define France’s food waste strategy. Guillaume Garot went on to propell onto the statute books the 2016 French legislation requiring supermarkets to redistribute their surplus food to charity, which has inspired similar initiatives worldwide.
The business world could not turn a blind eye to the immense media coverage that the issue of food waste was receiving during and after the event. Our continued engagement with French organisations and the media drove McCain, Carrefour and Metro Group, three of the largest food companies in the world, to approach us for input on how they can improve their operations to reduce levels of food waste. McCain later adopted our gleaning program and launched a gleaning programme of their own.
We challenged French supermarket Carrefour and worked with them to eliminate waste from their supply chain. Carrefour has since won a national prize for food waste reduction in France, and Director of CSR at Carrefour, Bertrand Swiderski, credits Feedback with triggering these changes.
Meanwhile, McCain launched a social enterprise converting reject vegetables in their supply chain into saleable products using a workforce comprised of people previously excluded from employment. They have launched this in partnership with the supermarket chain LeClerc – a relationship that Feedback brokered, as well as providing the inspiration and expert input into the original business model.