The Pig Idea

TAKE ACTION: Feedback’s new report sets out a convincing case for how we can feed food waste to pigs safely, liberating up to 2.5 million tonnes of UK food waste to be made into pig feed. That’s 20% of our current food waste. Ask Michael Gove to lift the ban.

If food is good to eat, then it should be eaten by people. But what about food that still has nutritional value, but isn’t suitable for people any more? That’s where pigs come in.

The Pig Idea campaign encourages the feeding of surplus food that is no longer fit for human consumption to pigs.

Read our new policy report Feeding Surplus Food to Pigs Safely: a win-win for farmers and the environment

The problem –  livestock industry is inherently wasteful

Agriculture has changed a lot in the last 50 years. Today, 36% of world crops are used to feed livestock, not people. Meanwhile, animal-based foods (meat and dairy) only deliver 12% of the world’s food calories. This is why we want to return to the common-sense approach of feeding food waste to pigs. New research highlights that livestock production is the least efficient process in our food system, with losses of 78% or 840 million tonnes.


The Pig Idea’s vision for a sustainable global food system:

A world where:

-There are no compromises on animal welfare

-Not a single tree is felled to make way for livestock grazing or feed crop land

-The use of agricultural land is determined by best yield in nutritional terms / lowest environmental impact

-Neither livestock nor fish are fed on plant food, meat or fish that could feed a human directly, unless when acting as a buffer and soaker-up of unpredictable surplus.

This means Less Meat and Better Meat.

The campaign

We aim to lift the EU ban on feeding catering waste, or swill, to pigs.

At the heart of The Pig Idea are three major objectives:

  1. Restore public confidence in the practice of feeding surplus food to pigs.
  2. Encourage more use of legally permissible food waste as pig feed – for example, bread, dairy, fruit and vegetables – by raising awareness and understanding of this option among supermarkets, food businesses, Animal Health officials and pig farmers. Check out our animal feed tool to  to clarify which surplus food is suitable, and what needs to be done to send the food to animal feed in a safe and legal way.
  3. Change European law to allow food waste including catering waste to be diverted for use as pig and chicken feed; and to introduce a robust legal framework for its safe processing and use to prevent the outbreak of animal diseases.

The science

For thousands of years pigs have been mankind’s perfect partner: they consume waste and convert it to food. Following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001, the government introduced a ban on feeding catering waste to pigs. A short-term ban during the crisis may have been justified, but science has shown that cooking leftover food renders it safe for pigs. As a result of Feedback advocacy work, three high impact scientific papers supporting The Pig Idea have been published, read here. We published a report with a panel of experts that shows that feeding treated surplus food to pigs is viable provided certain safety measures are enforced. Within the REFRESH project, Feedback is working to fully understand and mitigate this risk and propose effective risk management within a context of social, economic and environmental risk.

Latest news

19 October 2017: Wondering what you can feed your pigs? There’s now an app for that!

16 October 2017: Feedback part of European community of experts tackling food waste

5 October 2017: Can we have our meat and eat it too? The role of waste-fed pork in a sustainable food system

The Pig Idea feast

In November 2013, Feedback held The Pig Idea Feast in Trafalgar Square. Joined by the likes of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall the team served 5,000 dishes using pork from our very own pigs that had been reared on legally permissible food waste. Check out the video below.