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The Future of Food Surplus, Food Waste, and New Models of Social Eating

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Business School South

University of Nottingham

Jubilee Campus

Nottingham

NG8 1BB

United Kingdom

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Food waste is a pernicious social problem. In the UK for instance, the largest contribution to food waste comes from homes: 8.3 million tonnes per year, which costs consumers £12 billion and contributes to approximately 3% of UK greenhouse gas emissions (Quested et al., 2011). Yet despite the enormous amount of food binned daily by business and society alike food poverty remains a chronic issue. Charitable foodbank use in the UK has risen rapidly over the past two decades (Lansley & Mack 2015). The Trussell Trust alone distributed 1,182,954 instances of emergency 3-day food supplies between April 2016 and March 2017 (Trussell Trust, 2017). This staggering increase is not merely from people experiencing financial hardship due to a lack of employment. The growing number of people experiencing ‘in-work’ poverty has increased foodbank use as salaries fail to cover basic expenditure. But many people are still reluctant to visit foodbanks, with previous research indicating that the experience is often coupled with negative emotions such as guilt, shame, embarrassment or a feeling of indebtedness (Garthwaite, 2016).

The growing food crisis in the UK has prompted cross-party political attention. Indeed, a recent report entitled “Feeding Britain, prepared by an All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom, acknowledged that there was a significant number of hungry people and ... the terrifying idea that hunger is here to stay unless all of us take our responses on to a new and totally different level” (APPIHUK 2014, p. 8)”

If these issues are ever be eradicated consumers, businesses, charities, and government will all need to play a part in creating an alternative food future. The growing demand for alternative food provision has spawned many initiatives which reimagine how food is commoditised and distributed through supply chains. This reimagining is most apparent in supply chains with excessive food waste, particularly supermarkets with regular daily surpluses which can be repurposed. For instance, the UK organisation FareShare is responsible for collecting and distributing food surpluses to a wide variety of charity organisations such as ‘pay what you feel’ and ‘social eating’ cafes. These initiatives are part of a broader ‘feed people first’ movement which aims to guide the effective redirection of edible food waste to those citizens suffering from hunger.

This free inaugural symposium will bring stakeholders across business and society to discuss food waste success stories and map out the possibility of future collaboration across sectors. Keynote speakers will be given by leading thinkers from a range of companies, charities, government, and grassroots movements.

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Business School South

University of Nottingham

Jubilee Campus

Nottingham

NG8 1BB

United Kingdom

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