Food: Waste

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 6 February 2024.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to (a) reduce food waste at farms and (b) support farmers to ensure that surplus food is redistributed.

Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Government supports a thriving, productive and efficient farming sector that prevents waste occurring in the first place. For instance, we are supporting investment in productivity-boosting equipment, technology and infrastructure through the Farming Investment Fund. This provides grants to farmers, foresters, and growers (including contractors to these sectors) that will help their businesses to prosper, while improving their productivity and enhancing the environment.

We acknowledge that more can be done to reduce food waste in the primary production stage. The ‘fair dealings’ powers contained in the Agriculture Act 2020 can be used to prevent these kinds of unfair trading practices where they occur, as we are aware that unreasonably late cancellations or specification changes can sometimes lead to produce being unharvested. Last year we launched two new supply chain fairness reviews, looking into the egg and fresh produce supply chains, and building on what we have already got underway to improve transparency and contracts in the pork and dairy markets. The review into the egg supply chain closed on 22 December, and the review of the fresh produce supply chain will close on 22 February. We will publish a summary of responses within 12 weeks of each consultation closing.

The Government works closely with businesses through our delivery partner the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to overcome any barriers to redistribution. This includes the development of guidance and best practice through a sector wide working group, and support for the Target Measure Act approach to understanding and acting on food waste in supply chains, including the redistribution of any surplus should it arise and is supported by the National Farmers Union. Where the NFU stands on food waste – NFUonline

Since 2018, Defra funding of nearly £13 million has supported both large and small redistribution organisations across the country to increase their capability and capacity.

The total amount of food redistributed in the UK in 2022 was over 170,000 tonnes and a value of around £590 million, an increase of 133% since 2019.

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