In today’s world of ever increasing waste change is drastically needed, especially in the food industry. In data collected over the past five years, the UK wastes approximately 1,360,000 tonnes of food from the manufacturing, retail and wholesale sectors alone.
We can’t control what happens to the household, hospitality and general waste, but when it comes to industry waste Culina Group and our clients can certainly make our mark. Together with our charity partner FareShare we are encouraging our clients to help us to help others by re-purposing their surplus stock. This stock is usually close to its expiry date (within 2/3 days) meaning supermarkets cannot place it on their shelves. The stock could also be damaged. Sometimes all it takes is for one case to be damaged and the whole pallet is rejected from sale. It is still perfectly good food and we don’t see why it should go to waste. That’s when Fareshare comes in…
The History of FareShare
FareShare was established in 1994 as an offshoot of the charity ‘Crisis’ and became independent 10 years later in 2004. They joined the Food and Drink Federation in 2007 and won the award for ‘Britain’s Most Admired Charity’ in 2010. Today they have 21 Regional Centres across the country delivering good surplus food to thousands of organisations providing meals to people in need.
The Old Ways
There are costs attached to everything in business, even disposing of your ‘unwanted’ stock. After all someone has to collect it, transport it to its final destination then it has to be processed into feed or to be put in the ground. Previously surplus stock, or even stock that had damaged packaging that was well within its use-by date, was disposed of either by sending it to landfills or by using it to create animal feed. Obviously re-purposing this food to feed livestock is the better of the two options but what if there was another way? A third, and sometimes cheaper option made available to suppliers?
Changing the Status Quo
What if you could pay less to get rid of your surplus stock and help your fellow man in the process? That would be better for everyone, wouldn’t it? Well, that is exactly what FareShare believe, and we agree with them. In 2016 alone the charity saved 13,552 tonnes of food (with an estimated value of £22.2m) from being wasted! They dispensed it through their network of 6,723 affiliated charities and community groups across the UK. When you break that down it equates to a whopping 28.6m meals for vulnerable people around the country – that’s over 484000 people every week.
Seeing it First Hand:
We visited the FareShare Merseyside depot in October to see how the operation worked on the ground. We arrived at 9am and were greeted by the site manager Mark Hall and Ruth Peacegood (Merseyside Development Manager and FareShare’s Food Offers and Sourcing Coordinator respectively).
After our introductions we were given a tour around the facility where the whole process was explained. When the stock arrives it is sorted into chilled, frozen and ambient and then by ‘use by’ date. A full inventory of every item that enters the site is taken so that the staff can inform the affiliated charities of exactly what is available to them.
For a charity or even a school to be supplied by FareShare they must first fill out an application form detailing the purpose of the charity and the number of dependents that they provide to. From there a site visit is carried out by a member of the FareShare team to assess the correct amount of donations that the site can be entitled to.
On average a facility is provided with 20 crates a day, which is enough to feed 84 people. This food is going to homeless shelters, breakfast clubs, children’s summer holiday dinner clubs, to feed older people, many living in social isolation, and to stock some food banks. The Merseyside depot alone supplies over 120 groups in the surrounding area. To think that there are that many people in our community who are struggling to feed themselves and their children is heart breaking and should not be happening in 2017.
Call to Action
So at Culina Group we put the word out to our clients, many of whom jumped on board. Innocent (smoothies), Unilever and The Coconut Collab have all been early adopters of the scheme. We have also presented the scheme to several more clients who have agreed to donate their surplus stock to this worthwhile charity, firstly, because it is the right thing to do, and in a distant second, for the majority of the time it is cheaper than sending to landfill. Its just good business! We help by locating the closest FareShare depots to our own and our manufacturer’s warehouses to ensure that the produce can get to the people who need it most in the quickest time possible.
Who Else Cares?
It’s not just suppliers that are getting in on the act - supermarkets are too. Mark told us that Aldi is one of the charities biggest donators. Not only with food but with their ‘middle aisle’ stock also. This can be of great help to diversify their offerings to the communities. As you can imagine the offerings are varied from ski wear which goes straight to FareShare’s homeless charities, school supplies that are sent to the children at breakfast clubs. They were even sent three pallets of petrol lawnmowers that they distributed to sites to help with the upkeep.
We heard that Tesco have implemented a new protocol whereby any additional or incorrectly delivered stock will be delivered directly to a FareShare if the supplier does not collect it within 24 hours of being notified. This is amazing for the local charities but sometimes not so great for the FareShare facilities themselves.
All of the donations need to be sorted and catalogued on arrival. This is carried out by a committed team at each depot who are supported by volunteers. These ‘worker bees’ in the FareShare ‘hive’ sort, organise, pick, pack and deliver the food to ensure it gets to where it is needed in the shortest amount of time. As great as the volunteers are the charity could always use an extra pair of hands or two. If you would like to get involved with the FareShare team you can find your local depot here.
For the Future
In 2017 Culina Group and its clients have provided FareShare with over 158 tonnes of produce, which equates to 376,565 meals for the vulnerable. That’s a brilliant start but we feel we can do more and with winter upon us a hot meal is needed now more than ever. FareShare do an amazing job helping so many people every day and we are proud to make that task just a little bit easier. This is why we have made donating to FareShare one of the leading features we present to both old and new clients working with Culina Group. So…Who’s with us!?