Online surplus food retailer Approved Food has welcomed growing support for an innovative national food waste reduction programme – but says more must be done to meet the UK’s sustainability targets.

The resource protection body WRAP reports today that more than 200 food businesses have now signed up to its Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, including retail giants Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. Burger King, McDonald’s UK and Pret A Manger will also be taking part in a pilot hospitality scheme to inspire food waste champions across the country.

The roadmap is the only national programme operating from field to fork anywhere in the world. Since its launch in 2018 the number of participating organisations has more than doubled to around 260, with food production businesses numbering over 160. However, this still represents only half of the sector.

While support for the scheme is welcome, says Approved Food MD Andy Needham, more manufacturers and producers need to join the scheme to make a more meaningful contribution towards meeting the UK’s food waste reduction targets.

Mr Needham said: “It’s good news that so many businesses have already signed up to be part of this initiative. But we need to do more if the UK is to meet its environmental commitments to prevent a further 1.8 million tonnes of food from going to waste by 2030.

“More food manufacturers and producers still need to get on board though to help us meet those targets.

“It’s important to remember that businesses like ours are an important part of the solution. By buying surplus stock from manufacturers and distributors, we not only reduce waste but provide a welcome revenue stream. The more good quality food that is released for redistribution, the better.”

The Food Waste Reduction Roadmap uses a ‘Target-Measure-Act’ approach to prevent food waste. This delivers greater transparency on where food waste arises and how much is in danger of going to waste. This in turn enables as much quality surplus food as possible to be redistributed rather being thrown away.

Today’s joint report from WRAP and the Institute of Grocery Distribution precedes the Government’s expected consultation on mandatory public reporting of food waste by businesses, that is set to resume later this year. WRAP is working closely with policy makers to ensure new regulations are aligned with and informed by the roadmap and its resources. Approved Food fully supports this initiative as it will lead to greater transparency.

Approved Food’s brand ambassador Jonathan Straight added: “Under the Courtauld Commitment 2025 and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, a further 1.8 million tonnes of food needs to be prevented from going to waste by 2030. While private households have a significant role to play in this, more than half a million tonnes must yet be prevented through the actions of the manufacturing, food service, retail and hospitality sectors.

“If 400 more businesses committed to the scheme, and published their data and insights, this would be a significant step towards meeting these targets.”

Approved Food specialises in the on-line sale of surplus food, drink, household essentials and beauty products. The range includes items that are close to or just past their ‘best before’ date, ensuring that rather than going to waste, these perfectly edible products are eaten rather than thrown away.

Sister company Morris & Son is a specialist residual stock management business, clearing problem products for major manufacturers and distributers, generating positive returns while maintaining brand equity and integrity. The products are placed in incremental and alternative markets.

The Group is a supporting signatory of the Food Waste Roadmap initiative.