Congratulations to Aldi, the supermarket chain which has announced it’s giving away unwanted food this Christmas.
Aldi issued an appeal for organisations such as food banks to collect items in order to “prevent food going to waste”.
Their stores shut on December 24 – and won’t open again until December 27. That could mean unsold fresh food being dumped.
But the supermarket said: “Aldi is offering local organisations the opportunity to receive surplus food from their stores on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.”
They’re not the first. Tesco announced last year that it planned to work with 5,000 charities to ensure unsold food was put to good use. And it’s about time things changed.
Because the UK throws away 10 million tonnes of food each year, with a value of £17 billion.
The figures come from a charity called the Waste and Resources Action Programme, commonly known as WRAP, which aims to cut food waste.
Most of that isn’t the fault of the supermarkets. Around 7 million tonnes is actually thrown away by households who buy the food but never eat it.
There’s always going to be some waste. But the charity reckons that more than 5 million tonnes of household food waste is avoidable.
Shops have a role to play, however. Because they throw away a quarter of a million tonnes of food each year, and in theory there’s no reason the figure couldn’t be reduced to zero.
There’s always someone who needs support. Some people might argue that it’s better to ensure nobody actually needs free food, and they may be right.
But so far, no government has succeeded in eliminating poverty entirely.
And attempts to do so in the future won’t be hindered by the existence of food banks.
As things stand, we know that there are people who struggle to put food on the table. The Trussell Trust, which runs a number of food banks nationwide, says it provided 1,182,954 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis in the 12 months between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017.
That includes 111,386 three-day supplies in the West Midlands.
France has actually introduced legislation to stop stores binning good quality food approaching its best-before date.
Managers at supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sq metres or more now have to sign donation contracts with charities or face a fine.
Perhaps we should do the same here. But we should certainly welcome voluntary efforts by supermarkets to put unsold food to good use.