In 2022 more food was redistributed across all food storage types, with chilled and frozen foods seeing highest growth, according to WRAP

The Felix Project has benefitted from a Defra-backed refrigeration project

The Felix Project has benefitted from a Defra-backed refrigeration project

New WRAP data on food redistribution reveals that chilled and frozen foods saw the highest growth as the UK redistributed 27 per cent more food in 2022 than the year before.

The food waste NGO announced its annual UK Surplus Food Redistribution data on 29 September to coincide with International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste 2023.

Total redistributed food in Britain increased by around 29,000 tonnes (+27 per cent) compared to 2021. This is equivalent to 70 million more meals.

More food was redistributed across all food storage types, but chilled and frozen foods saw the highest growth, up 34 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Last year, approximately 170,000 tonnes of surplus food was received by redistribution organisations in Britain, equating to just over 400 million meals. This food had a value of more than £590 million.

WRAP is working on projects with several redistribution organisations and one example is a refrigeration project at The Felix Project’s Poplar site in London.

This is funded by Defra’s Resource Action Fund, which aims to support increases in the infrastructure and capacity needed to redistribute frozen and chilled food, plus extend the shelf life of surplus food.

The investment has helped redirect quality surplus food to help people during the cost-of-living crisis.

The project will optimise the capacity of The Felix Project’s Park Royal depot and help support additional staff and volunteers, as well as new equipment, software and a freezer van.

WRAP’s Catherine David said: “Optimising refrigeration and freezing facilities means that a wider range of food can reach people. While great strides have been made, WRAP urges the food sector to do more.”

Richard Smith, head of food supply at The Felix Project, added: “Having more freezer capacity plays a huge role in enabling us to extend the life of more surplus food and ensures we have more produce to get to the charities we supply. We know the need for support is so huge, so many people are struggling to afford to feed themselves and their families.”

The volume of surplus food redistributed through both charitable and commercial channels has continued to rise. Charitable channels (70 per cent) exceed commercial channels (30 per cent).

According to data submitted to WRAP in 2022, the retail sector remained the largest source of redistributed surplus food (41 per cent), followed closely by manufacture (32 per cent).

The hospitality and foodservice sectors saw the highest relative growth over the past four years (10 per cent), and the farming sector provided five per cent of surplus food. The remaining 12 per cent is from mixed/other sources.

WRAP said its allocation of government grants for items such as fridges and freezer vans allow redistribution organisations to do their job more effectively.

Some 27 per cent of respondents in WRAP’s report said the amount of food their organisation redistributed in 2022 was greater than in 2021. And they recognised that an increase in capacity to store and handle more chilled and frozen food was a key reason for the increase.