Asda to give all surplus food to charity in bid to relieve food poverty

FareShare will distribute milk, bread, meat and vegetables to provide  meals for the poor

One of Britain’s biggest supermarkets has resolved to donate all its surplus stock to charity.

Asda announced it would donate surplus food from within its supply chain to FareShare, which redistributes it to charities around the UK,  providing meals to some of the 5.8  million people it claims are in living in “deep poverty” in Britain.

Surplus is produced when a supplier sends a retailer more of a product than is ordered. As the store does not  own the product they cannot sell it on so they have to send it back to the supplier – by which time it is often out of date  so has to be thrown away.

In a first for British retail, Asda has committed to diverting all its surplus stock including bread, milk, meat and vegetables, to FareShare.

These donations would equate to more than three million free meals each year, according to a statement published today. That amount of food would provide a saving of £4.7m to British charities, it was claimed.

Unlike traditional food-banks, where food is handed-out to people in need to take away with them, the food redistributed by FareShare is used by various charities to cook meals for  people in need to their services.

The organisation currently provides 42,000 meals a week to 910 charities. In the past year, it has seen a 26 per cent increase in the number of charities turning to them for donations.

Asda’s contributions should increase the quantity of chilled food sent to FareShare depots across the UK by 1,500 tonnes this year, a 41 per cent increase in the total amount of all food currently redistributed. 

Lindsay Boswell, the FareShare  chief executive said the arrangement would see surplus food redistributed at “unprecedented levels undertaken by a retailer on this scale in the UK”.

He added: “We also know that there are more people turning to charities for food than at any other time in FareShare’s history. This initiative will mean we can provide more food to more charities and will enable us to feed even more people at a time of real need.

“Not only will this programme have immense environmental impact by diverting food away from the waste stream, it will also save hundreds of charities millions of pounds a year. They will be able to reinvest these savings into providing additional support services for their beneficiaries. A breakfast club will be able to help vulnerable children learn to read and a day centre will be able to invest more in employment programmes, helping people get back on track.”

Asda’s commitment will cast  scrutiny on other major supermarkets.  Sainsbury’s said it donates non-perishable goods to FareShare while  sending its unsold fresh food to be made into animal feed. Tesco said it had been developing a scheme  with FareShare redirecting food from its online stores

Morrisons said it worked with a number of organisations including FareShare and His Church to “collect and redistribute goods that can’t be sold through our stores”.

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