Supermarkets ‘must do more to prevent food waste’

Approved Food, the UK’s largest online discount food retailer of surplus food and drink, has been praised by Environment Secretary Michael Gove for supporting a national initiative to reduce food waste.

The Sheffield-based company was among 100 of the biggest players in food – including all the UK’s major supermarket chains – to sign a pledge to reduce food waste by 2030 at last month’s Step Up To The Plate event in London.

Mr Gove said: “Congratulations to Approved Food for stepping up to the plate and committing to game-changing action to cut food waste. The UK is showing real leadership in this area, and together we will end the environmental and economic scandal that is food waste.”

However, Approved Food Brand Ambassador Jonathan Straight is calling on supermarkets to do more to make surplus food available further up the supply chain.

He said: “We are calling on the big retailers to allow more access to food further up the supply chain, in other words food that has been produced but has not yet been delivered to store. We believe that more of this should be made available for redistribution.

“Such food includes, for example, supermarket branded products that have been produced by the manufacturer but are then deemed by the supermarket to be too close to their best before date or there may be a change required to the packaging design. This becomes surplus and only a small number of organisations can currently access these supplies with large amounts adding to the waste issue.

“The perception is that supermarkets are working hard to reduce waste by giving leftover produce to charities. But we want to see them opening up the access to products further up the supply chain as this will have a huge impact on food waste overall.”

Jonathan and Approved Food MD Andy Needham signed the pledge at the Step Up To The Plate, joining supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, manufacturers such as Nestle and Unilever and environmental charities to sign a pledge to reduce waste and increase public awareness.

Currently, it is estimated around 10.2 million tonnes of food and drink – worth a total of £20 billion – are wasted every year. According to WRAP, the average household throws away £500 of food every year.

Approved Food campaigns for better education about best before dates on food labels, which it says leads to confusion over what is safe to eat and ultimately results in families throwing away perfectly edible food. The company specialises in selling short-dated food and drink, along with items in slightly damaged packaging.