Interview with Elina Kanela, Senior Marketing & Communications Officer
Author: Silvia Nebl
At Mia & Ben we don’t just care about having the healthiest products possible. It is also a priority for us to have a wider positive social impact.
That means that we want to tackle challenges like child poverty, CO²-emissions and, of course, food waste.
To make sure that we aren’t wasting any of our pouches that are still good to eat, we have partnered with FareShare. This means that several charities like The Bread and Butter Thing (Greater Manchester) and communities in Preston (Lancashire) and Speke (Liverpool) have benefitted from Mia & Ben’s healthy food. In December, we donated 6,360 Apple & Blueberry and 9,540 Banana, Mango and Pineapple pouches – 15,900 in total!
FareShare is the biggest NGO in the UK that is fighting hunger and food waste. They collect surplus food from logistic centres, retailers, and other food industry companies, and distribute it via their 21 regional centers to communities all over the UK. The redistributed food provides help for kindergardens, community centres, old people’s homes and homeless shelters. And this very successful – every week more than 900,000 people (!) have benefited from what they provide!
Elina Kanela, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer at FareShare, let us know a bit more about what FareShare do and her motivation for working there:
What was your motivation to start working for FareShare?
I have always deeply cared about the environment and people so when I found out that there was actually a charity that helps both it seemed perfect!
Food waste is a huge social issue as all the food that gets wasted could be used to feed people in need but it’s also an environmental one – in the UK alone we throw away over 10 million tonnes of food every year. When you consider the resources involved in growing, preparing and transporting that food, often halfway around the world, that figure is even more shocking. On top of that, any wasted food that ends up in the landfill produces methane – a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. According to The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, 8% of all human-caused greenhouse gas is created by food waste. And, if it were a country, food waste would be the third-highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Crazy, no?
Could you share your best story so far with us?
I think one of my best moments was when I went to visit a homeless charity called Emmaus Greenwich and got to see first-hand what a difference our work and food makes – how it brings people together, giving them something to look forward to and how FareShare helps the charities save money that would have had to otherwise be spent on buying food. I was very inspired then to keep working for FareShare and help support as many charities as possible across the UK.
What would you wish for the future development of food waste?
WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) estimates that, within the food industry, there’s 220,000 tonnes of edible surplus, 100,000 tonnes of which is easily accessible. Further up the supply chain WRAP estimate a further 2m tonnes of edible food is wasted on UK farms.
We know that food waste is an issue the public cares deeply about, and it’s clear businesses are already taking action to tackle the problem. Half of the UK’s 250 largest food companies have pledged to reduce their food waste by 2020, using the WRAP/IGD Food Waste Reduction Roadmap to Target – Measure – Act. In the future we’d like to for every food business to measure their food waste and put a plan in place to reduce it.
What can the customers change?
Historically, supermarkets have rejected ‘less than perfect’ looking fruit and veg on the grounds their customers won’t buy them. We’re seeing a lot more ‘wonky’ fruit and veg on our supermarket shelves now – and consumers can play their part by embracing ‘ugly’ veg. It might not look as good but it still tastes great!
Which laws should governments install?
Previously, it costed companies more to redistribute their in-date surplus food to charity, rather than sending it to anaerobic digestion or animal feed. Put off by the fact that it can occur extra costs, this sadly often hinders companies to work with us, even if they might feel strongly about food waste. In 2018 the UK Government announced a new fund to encourage companies to divert their surplus food to good causes. This fund will cover any additional costs involved in keeping food fit for human consumption, for example packaging, transport and storage. We believe this new funding will help to unlock much greater volumes of food for frontline charities.
Thank you so much for these interesting insights.
We are looking forward to support even more charities with our delicious food!