As a member of the Government, I am not able to sign any Early Day Motions, and am therefore unable to sign EDM 66. However, I appreciate how important an issue this is and that we should be doing everything we can to reduce food waste to an absolute minimum. It is wrong that anyone should go hungry at the same time as surplus food is going to waste.
The Food Waste (Reduction) Bill was not debated as scheduled on 29 January owing to a lack of parliamentary time. However, preventing food waste is an important objective for the Government. It is working with the Waste & Resources Action Programme and the food industry to limit food waste to its lowest possible level. To this end, Government Ministers have backed several rounds of the Courtauld Commitment, a voluntary agreement to limit waste. It's encouraging that 90% of the food manufacturing and retailer sector have signed up to this commitment.
As a result, domestic household food waste has already been reduced by 15 per cent since 2007, and food waste in the supply chain has reduced by 8 per cent. A separate voluntary agreement within the hospitality and food services industry was launched in 2012, saw over 170 signatories and supporters sign up to an ambitious set of targets to reduce their waste and manage it better.
The Government continues to work closely with industry and charities to consider how best to prevent waste across the whole supply chain. One option is to encourage retailers to agree in advance to purchase the whole crop from a specific farm or field, then decide whether each vegetable should be sold loose, processed or used in soups and sauces, based on their size and appearance. This would help make sure that vegetables aren't wasted just because they look unusual. It also prevents waste and gives farmers greater certainty.
I am interested by a new French policy of requiring supermarkets to donate food that would otherwise go to waste to charity. There are no current plans to replace the policy in the UK, but if the French initiative is a success, I think it something this Government should look at closely.