Borough Market in London has now redistributed enough surplus produce to supply 100,000 meals to charities across the capital.
The market has been working with food waste organisation Plan Zheroes since 2014, with surpluses redirected to 30 London charities.
The majority of surplus food donated by traders is fruit and vegetables, followed by baked goods, but the market’s recent investment in new storage equipment means meat, fish and dairy can now also be provided.
The landmark 100,000th meal will take place at the Healthy Living Club in Lambeth, a community group that provides meals and activities for people with dementia and their carers.
Some 8.4 million people in the UK reported having uncertain or insufficient access to food in 2014, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, yet only a fraction of edible surpluses are redistributed. Wrap has reported that just 17,000 tonnes of a possible 270,000t is redirected to charities each year.
Darren Henaghan, managing director of Borough Market, said: “Waste reduction in all its forms is fundamental to the culture of Borough Market.
“The community here has long been at the forefront of sustainability best practice, and customers are encouraged to eat with the seasons, question the provenance of ingredients…”
Together with Plan Zheroes, the market has rescued close to 17,000kg of surplus food over the past year, equivalent to 33,358 meals.
The market has helped fund twice-weekly food collections and a new ‘Borough Delivers’ scheme. Surplus produce is taken directly from traders and delivered by volunteers on an electric-assisted, zero-emission bike that was funded by the Evening Standard’s Food for London campaign.
This has enabled Borough Market to avoid pollution during delivery and reach charities that are unable to collect the produce themselves.
The initiative involves 40 volunteers and 44 traders from Borough Market, with the top 5 contributors (by weight) being Ted’s Veg, Bread Ahead Bakery & School, Turnips, Olivier’s Bakery and Northfield Farm.
Recipient charities include mental health organisation Mental Fight Club, dementia charity The Healthy Living Club and homeless shelter St Mungo’s.
Going forward, the market is looking to redistribute produce to a greater number of small charities that don’t necessarily have the manpower to collect or store food. Henaghan called on the food industry to help redistribute more surplus produce by providing storage and dedicated volunteers.
As well as redirecting surpluses, waste reduction is central to Borough Market’s drive for sustainability. Traders and tenants are encouraged to plan effectively, finely tune their storage methods and espouse a philosophy that values quality and sustainability over profit.
The market pointed out that a certain level of surplus is unavoidable, however, since shopper numbers can be affected by changes in the weather, disruption on the London Underground, and other factors.