Surplus Story

Did you know that one-third of all food is wasted? That’s 1.3 billion tonnes wasted globally every year – 15 million tonnes in the UK. Food production is the single biggest impact that humanity has on the environment as it uses huge amounts of land, fuel and energy. We’re trashing the planet to produce food that no-one eats.


In the UK, bread is top of the list of our most wasted household food items.  We waste almost 900,000 tonnes of bread every year – around 24 million slices every day. In terms of calories, that’s enough to lift over 26 million people out of hunger.


As much as 44% of all bread produced in the UK is wasted but almost half of that is before it even reaches our homes. Sandwich factories discard the heel and first slice of every loaf – that’s 17% of the loaf – because we don’t buy sandwiches made with crusts. A single sandwich factory discards 13,000 slices of fresh bread every day. And bakeries and retailers dispose of loaves that are day-old because it’s relatively cheap to produce and consumers expect abundant supplies of day-fresh bread.

It doesn’t have to be like this. First we need to stop overproducing – we produce way more bread that we could ever eat. But there will always be some surplus and that should be redistributed to food charities. Most of the UK supermarkets now have partnerships with charities who help them to get surplus food to those in need.


If food isn’t suitable for human consumption or, as in the case of bread, there is too much to redistribute, it should be fed to animals. In the UK, Tesco and Sainsbury’s send their bakery surplus to be made into animal feed. As a last resort food can be used for composting or anaerobic digestion rather than being sent to landfill, but these are pretty inefficient ways of converting the resources used to produce food into soil and energy. Currently Morrisons, and Waitrose send surplus food that can’t be redistributed to AD.

We support the Real Bread Campaign’s initiative to tackle overproduction and never take bread that could go to feed people via one of the many brilliant organisations that receive and use, or otherwise help with, donations of surplus food here.