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8 Dec, 2014 14:24

4.3mn tons of food thrown away by firms annually – amid rife hunger & poverty

4.3mn tons of food thrown away by firms annually – amid rife hunger & poverty

Supermarket giant Morrisons binned of 10,000 Cornish pasties after their delivery driver arrived 17 minutes late for collection, according to a report on hunger in the UK. The report also found that 4.3 million tons of edible food is discarded annually.

Only 2 percent of the waste food generated by supermarkets, restaurants and food manufacturers is given to the poor. The rest is left to rot in landfill sites.

In extreme cases, like the Morrisons pasty incident, huge amounts of food is thrown away because it is misshapen or does not fit supermarket requirements. Don Gardner, a food bank manager from Cornwall, said he was offered 10 tons of tomatoes because they were “too big” for Tesco.

That shouldn’t happen,” he said. “I was offered 30,000 spring greens the other day because they were going to be ploughed back into the field. I couldn’t have them because I didn’t have anywhere to put them,” he added.

The report condemns the mass wastage of food, saying it is “indefensible that huge numbers of people are going hungry in a country which wastes such vast quantities of food that is fit for consumption.”

Reuters / Stefan Wermuth

The non-profit social enterprise Food Aware, which campaigns for the fair distribution of resources, estimates the annual value of food thrown away in the UK is £23 billion, two thirds of which comes from retail and producers.

Speaking to RT, Sean Gibbons, the Director of Food Aware said "The current supermarket food waste problem is significant, sensitive and literally 'a hidden world'. Although, there are some great examples of some supermarkets doing the right thing and donating surplus food to charities/community organisations, there is still much work to be done."

"Our issue at Food AWARE is‎ that the food industry do no want to redistribute any food which is near or past its 'Best Before' date as this would affect them financially" he added.

Gibbons further said that knowing the difference between 'best before' and 'use by' was imperative in tackling the problem.

The report’s authors urged groups to make more of an effort to redistribute.

Whilst we acknowledge that a certain amount of food waste is unavoidable, and that not all surplus food can be redistributed, we urge the Waste and Resources Action Programme [a recycling quango] to set food retailers and manufacturers a target of doubling the proportion of surplus food they redistribute to food assistance providers.”

A Number 10 source suggested the government is keen to examining ways to reduce food waste.

“The report contains some useful ideas about how we might cut down on food waste so that perfectly good food isn’t simply thrown away,” they said.

READ MORE:‘Hunger stalks the nation’: Church of England slams govt as 1mn Brits dependent on food banks

Revelations of the UK’s staggering food wastage come as a report on the growing use of food banks shows the number of people living in food poverty has risen sharply.

According to figures from the Trussell Trust, 900,000 people in the UK are in need of emergency food bank supplies. This constitutes a huge rise from 350,000 in 2012-13. Over a third of claimants are children.

The report further showed that new food banks are opening at a rate of two per week.