Food businesses should work with local government to create these networks, which would allow surplus food to be redistributed to the food banks, urged the Feeding Britain report, from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger.
Such a goal could only be achieved if food retailers and manufacturers took a coordinated approach, said the report, which was funded by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Charitable Trust.
More than 4Mt of surplus food was produced in the country annually, which was a practice that must be stopped, the report added.
Redistribution of surplus food, which would otherwise be disposed of, had to be prioritised above all other schemes, said the Bishop of Truro, who wrote the introduction to the report.
“We want to encourage all in our society to look to our values and virtues and to begin a much larger and deeper conversation about how we live together,” he added.
Rejected by the Food Ethics Council
However, the report’s suggestion to establish a network of food banks to feed Britain was rejected by the Food Ethics Council (FEC), which accused the government of failing in its responsibility to feed all Brits.
“We believe the state is failing to fulfil its obligations around human right to food here in the UK,” it added.
“It is depressing that the report accepts that ‘food banks are here to stay – for more than the immediate future’.”
Linking food waste with poverty was also inappropriate and giving more of the high levels of food waste to even larger food banks was not going to be helpful, it claimed.
‘Unnecessary food waste’
“Clearly, tackling unnecessary food waste is an important issue, but food waste and food poverty should not be linked in this way.
“There needs to be a bigger conversation about food prices and valuing food – we need to be prepared for the reality of higher food prices,” FEC said.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) claimed the food industry could save £2.2bn a year by giving food products an extra day’s shelf-life.
Peter Whitehead, WRAP interim project manager, said 15% of all food waste arose from the disposal of products that were no longer edible.
“Provisional evidence has shown that there’s some scope to add extra shelf-life to some products,” said Whitehead. “We’re not looking at significant movements [in dates], but marginal increases.”