Fareshare, Company Shop Group, The Felix Project and Food Works Sheffield will receive funding through the first tranche of a £15m pilot scheme, launched in January by environment secretary Michael Gove.
The scheme aims to help redistribution organisations overcome barriers in getting food currently going to waste onto people’s plates.
Projects put forward by the four companies included developing new supply routes from growers and local distributors, funding new lines and additional staff, and increasing capacity for repackaging and labelling.
A further round of funding was to focus on improving infrastructure for companies to redistribute even more of what the Waste & Resources Action Programme estimated was 100,000t of food – equating to 250 million meals – that was edible and readily available, but went uneaten.
Currently sent away
Instead, this food was being sent away for generating energy from waste, anaerobic digestion or animal feed, it added.
Environment minister Thérèse Coffey said food waste was “morally unforgivable”, adding that the £15m Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) fund was “a true game-changer”.
“I am thrilled that this first round of funding will allow these terrific projects to redistribute even more perfectly good food, making sure it ends up where it belongs – on people’s plates and in stomachs,” Coffey said.
Justin Byam Shaw, founder of The Felix Project, said: “Now, with the government behind us, The Felix Project can help lead the way in getting this mountain of great, surplus food to those who really need it.”
‘A fairer and more sustainable food system’
Jo Hercberg, founder of Food Works Sheffield, said: “At Food Works Sheffield we believe in building a fairer and more sustainable food system. A big part of this is reducing food waste, so being awarded some of the Food Waste Fund will really help us achieve this goal in 2019.
“As a relatively small and new project we’re delighted to have been considered alongside the large national organisations.”
The government’s latest food waste scheme builds on its Resources and Waste Strategy, which laid out plans to introduce annual reporting of food surplus and waste by food businesses. Should industry progress be “insufficient”, it has warned that mandatory targets would be sought.
The Strategy also set out how the government would ensure weekly collections of food waste for every household, subject to consultation.
According to the government, food waste in the UK totals 10.2 million tonnes a year, of which 1.8 million tonnes comes from food manufacture. A further 1 million is generated by the hospitality sector, and 260,000 tonnes from retail, with the remainder from households.