Advertisement
Social Justice

Almost 200,000 tonnes of food was wasted in the UK last year

The charity Wrap said it is “devastating” to see how much food still goes to waste when “so many people are struggling to afford the basis”.

Nearly 200,000 tonnes of food was wasted in the UK last year, according to the latest figures – the equivalent of around 476 million meals.

Research shows the UK wastes enough food every year to fill Wembley Stadium eight times. Meanwhile, millions of people across the country are struggling to afford meals for themselves and their children.

Catherine David, of the climate action charity Wrap, which conducted the study, said: “It’s devastating to see how much food continues to be wasted from supply chains when so many people are struggling to afford the basics, and food redistributors say they can take more.”

Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work.

Steps are being taken in the right direction, with a 16 per cent increase in surplus food being redistributed in 2021 – 106,000 tonnes. This food, which was given to charities and businesses, had a value of more than £330m. 

David added: “Whilst we welcome the increased amount of food being redistributed in the UK, we know there is a huge amount of good food – 200,000 tonnes of it every year – that could be feeding people. 

“Wasting food also feeds climate change, as all the resources taken to produce the food are thrown in the bin with it. We urge all food businesses and their suppliers to adopt our guidance on redistribution as a priority and help more food get to the people who need it. The surplus food is there, and there is so much more that could be saved at this difficult time for UK families.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Wrap’s progress report revealed around 190,000 tonnes of food from the retail and manufacturing sectors was wasted last year. Even more food went uneaten in other parts of the supply chain, including in the hospitality and farming sectors. 

Stop Mass Homelessness

Help us stop mass homelessness

Unless we act, the UK is facing a homelessness crisis 
this autumn.

Food minister, Victoria Prentis, said: “Nobody wants to see good food go to waste. With a 16 per cent increase in surplus food redistribution in 2021 and more than 106,000 tonnes of surplus food redistributed, reducing food waste is a great example of what we can achieve when we all come together.”

Redistribution has more than tripled since Wrap first reported figures in 2015. An estimated 426,000 tonnes of surplus food worth more than £1.3 billion has been saved from wastage – the equivalent of more than a billion meals in six years.

Charlotte Hill OBE, of charity the Felix Project, said: “Now, in the face of a worsening cost of living crisis, it is even more vital that we work together to get food to our 1000 community partners across London and to maximise the social value of this surplus food.”

Advertisement

Bigger Issues need bigger solutions

Big Issue Group is creating new solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunities for the 14.5 million people living in poverty to earn, learn and thrive. Big Issue Group brings together our media and investment initiatives as well as a diverse and pioneering range of new solutions, all of which aim to dismantle poverty by creating opportunity. Learn how you can change lives today.

Recommended for you

Read All
'People will starve and freeze' if government U-turns on promise to increase benefits
Cost of living crisis

'People will starve and freeze' if government U-turns on promise to increase benefits

Children as young as 14 are having to get jobs to provide for their families
Cost of living crisis

Children as young as 14 are having to get jobs to provide for their families

Labour would bring in free breakfast clubs at every primary school in England
Childcare

Labour would bring in free breakfast clubs at every primary school in England

Child poverty in the UK: the definitions, causes and consequences in the cost of living crisis
Child poverty

Child poverty in the UK: the definitions, causes and consequences in the cost of living crisis

Most Popular

Read All
How much will the Queen's funeral cost?
1.

How much will the Queen's funeral cost?

The internet's best reactions as Kwasi Kwarteng cuts taxes and lifts the cap on bankers' bonuses
2.

The internet's best reactions as Kwasi Kwarteng cuts taxes and lifts the cap on bankers' bonuses

From benefit claimants to bankers: Here’s what the mini-budget means for your pay packet
3.

From benefit claimants to bankers: Here’s what the mini-budget means for your pay packet

5 ways anti-homeless architecture is used to exclude people from public spaces
4.

5 ways anti-homeless architecture is used to exclude people from public spaces

To mark our new Arctic Monkeys exclusive interview, we’ve picked out some of our best band and musician interviews from the past, featuring Arctic Monkeys (2018), When Jarvis met Bowie, The Specials, Debbie Harry and more. Sign up to our mailing list to receive your free digital copy.