Tag: hunger

Surplus fruit and vegetables used in Kenya to feed thousands

26th Apr 17 by Edd Colbert

On average 45% of fresh produce is rejected in Kenya

In 2014 Feedback investigated Kenyan export supply chains and found that vast quantities of fruit and vegetables were being wasted due to strict cosmetic standards enforced by European retailers and unfair trading practices such as last minute order cancellations. On average 45% of fresh produce is rejected, and without sufficient demand in the local market the vast majority of this food is either dumped or fed to livestock. Farmers aren’t paid for what isn’t exported so wasted food not only means wasted resources, but also reduced income for rural communities.

Working with local partners we held the first African Disco Soup, bringing together people and surplus food to communally cook and celebrate the delicious solutions to food waste. Representatives from the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) joined us. We proposed the need for an effective redistribution system in Kenya alongside efforts to reduce waste through changes to business practices. Our report, Food Waste in Kenya, concluded that “in a country where millions of people are without adequate food and nutrition, infrastructure should be put in place to ensure surplus food is redistributed to those who need it”.

Following on from our work, a new project led by the WFP is using surplus fruit and vegetables to provide thousands of meals to school children daily. Its initial pilot scheme is currently feeding 2,200 school children one hot meal a day. Upon completion of the pilot the WFP plans to feed over 80,000 children per day. This program is expected to save over 1000 tonnes of food every year by paying exporters a small price for food that they would otherwise throw away.

How does the program work?

WFP collect surplus food from export centres, prepares meals in offsite catering facilities and deliver it to schools. They hope to eventually prepare food within school facilities. There is also talk of bringing in other actors to re-purpose some of this food into value added products. The WFP’s initiative will hopefully inspire similar projects to be developed in places where there is sadly both a surplus of produce to be eaten and millions of people unable to access regular quantities of nutritious food.

Redistribution alone won’t solve the food waste problem

Redistribution of surplus food is essential as it not only ensures food waste is avoided, but also provides people with good nutrition where they may not otherwise be able to access fresh produce. However, food waste is symptomatic of greater systemic imbalances in the supply chain and we cannot ignore the fact that farmers suffer when food cannot be sold despite being perfectly good to eat. Alongside redistribution efforts, the reduction and prevention of waste must be prioritised to ensure that farmers can afford to invest in their businesses and contribute to rural development. Businesses must take responsibility for the waste they cause in their supply chains. Supermarkets, large food brands and manufacturers all wield disproportionate power in the global food economy. The use of strict cosmetic specifications, unfair trading practices, and vague forecasting patterns all transfer excessive risk and uncertainty to suppliers and encourage overproduction leading to waste. Whilst these actors maintain this level of power they must equally act with great responsibility for the wellbeing of their suppliers, consumers, and the natural resources we all rely upon.



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Feedback call on UK Government to take action against food waste

19th Sep 16 by fb_admin

Feedback have submitted a response to the British Government’s Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee inquiry on ‘Food Waste in England’. Read the full response here.


The inquiry seeks to understand the social, economic and environmental impact of food waste at the household, retail, hospitality and local government levels. Feedback join other organisations, including the NFU and Friends of the Earth in calling for the scope of the inquiry to be wider and include a focus on food waste that arises in the supply chain, particularly at the farm level.

Disproportionate attention has been paid to food waste at the household level in England since the launch of the Waste Strategy in 2007. While this has led to significant reductions, primarily through the work of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign,  we believe that efforts to reduce food waste in the supply chain have been left on the side lines for far too long.

Part of the reason supply chain food waste has been neglected in the UK, and indeed at the international level[1], is due to the lack of data available. Farmers and other suppliers in the food system are not sufficiently incentivised to measure their food waste. Instead, waste caused by unfair trading practices such as order cancellations and rejections are something that many businesses just have to swallow, as they fear that complaining out about it could cause them to lose business.  Similarly cosmetic specifications that lead to ‘imperfect’ produce being wasted, has simply become the norm for many suppliers.

In order to seriously tackle food waste in England and across the United Kingdom, Feedback believes that the government must address the lack of transparent data on supply chain food waste and also tackle the current climate of fear in supermarket supply chains.

Beyond taking action to prevent food waste, the British Government must ensure the correct use of the food waste hierarchy is implemented by food businesses by reviewing the current ban on feeding catering waste to non-ruminant livestock to allow the development of an economic and robustly monitored food to feed industry, and by removing subsidies that prioritise waste management over waste prevention.

Feedback consider that legislation in the following five areas is necessary to effectively reduce food waste in England:

  • A UK national food waste reduction target

Alongside Scotland, the UK government should set a target for Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England to halve food waste across the supply chain (including pre retail food waste) by 2030, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development (UNSDG) Goal 12.3 to halve food waste globally by 2030.

  • Mandatory industry food waste reporting

The UK government should introduce legislation that makes public reporting of food waste data mandatory for food businesses over a particular size, including data on supply chains.  Making this data publicly available would increase competition between businesses generating positive results for consumers, retailers and suppliers.

  • Strengthening the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA)

The GCA is limited to regulating the relationship between retailers and their direct (first-tier) suppliers meaning that indirect suppliers are not protected from unfair trading practices (UTPs) that can cause overproduction and food waste. Feedback recommend that the GCA have their remit extended in order to protect indirect suppliers in the same way that direct suppliers are protected.

  • Removal of subsidies that incentivise sending edible food to anaerobic digestion

To ensure food waste prevention efforts take priority over anaerobic digestion (AD), in line with the food waste hierarchy, Feedback advocate that Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) are only available for the AD of non-edible food waste that is otherwise destined for landfill, and not any food waste that could be directed further up the hierarchy (as is the case with the Renewable Heat Initiative).

  • Revision of the ban on feeding catering waste to non-ruminant livestock

Feedback advocates the use of regulated, centralized, sophisticated catering waste treatment systems to ensure food waste can safely be used in feed for non-ruminants (pigs and chickens). Legislation is currently blocking such systems from being created that could simultaneously reduce food waste, create jobs, and significantly improve the environmental impact of meat production.

[1] The UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 seeks to halve food waste globally by 2030 at the household and retail level, whilst recommending efforts should also be made to reduce supply chain waste albeit without a measurable reduction target.

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