Vegetable producer supports Feed 5,000 event in London

A LARGE-SCALE vegetable producer which operates across East Anglia says it has “struck a blow” in the war on waste today by supporting Feed the 5,000, an initiative to highlight food waste.

Produce World Group, which has its headquarters in Peterborough, is supporting food distribution charity Fareshare, which is distributing food which would normally be wasted, and says it is committed to keeping its waste to “the absolute minimum”.

The Feed the 5000 campaign, which is highlighting how much food is wasted along the supply chain as well as by consumers, is making lunch for 5000 people and offer it free in Trafalgar Square today.

Great Glemham-based local food campaigner Jason Gathorne Hardy said of the campaign: “Food waste is a big issue. A very significant proportion of food grown for European and North American markets is never eaten.

“This event turns this situation upside down and back to front, by serving food that would otherwise be considered “waste”.”

Six tonnes of produce from Produce World will be going into the curry being served. However, it would not have been wasted as it would have gone to processing or animal feed, said Produce World, which added it was “delighted” to contribute to the campaign.

Produce World chief executive William Burgess said: “As far as fresh produce is concerned nothing goes to waste. Produce that does not go to the major retailers because it is deemed to be ‘out of specification’ is used for processing or for livestock feed. We are also working hard to reduce our energy consumption and eliminate waste packaging wherever possible.

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“As a result of Government campaigns run over the past few years, and the recent initiative on sell-by dates, people will be aware that too much food does go to waste, and as a company we are happy to do what we can to help highlight this problem. Fareshare is a charity arranging distribution of food that would normally be wasted, such as over-stocked or slightly damaged items, and we are happy to support their work where we can.”

To kick off the initiative, Produce World hosted a ‘gleaning’ event at a trial site used by brassica grower and supplier Produce World Marshalls. In a new initiative, the company has been growing over 100 different varieties of brassicas in batches which are too small to sell commercially. Instead, volunteers from Produce World harvested the field, while Fareshare workers loaded the 120 trays into vans ready to go to their distribution depots.

Tristram Stuart, the man behind Feeding the 5000, said: “We need more companies to take the same approach as Produce World. I have been very impressed by all the steps they are taking to eliminate waste, particularly in the food supply chain. We are also grateful for their support to the Feeding the 5000 event, and hope that others in the food sector will be encouraged to look at reducing waste and for surplus to be used in the most effective way possible.”