Waitrose helps fight hunger with new trial that delivers surplus food to vulnerable households straight from the farm

Thursday 25 February 2021

  • Waitrose galvanises its suppliers to help divert over five million surplus apples, carrots, mushrooms, sprouts and more from its farms to food charity FareShare 
  • This will aim to provide over one million meals for vulnerable households struggling to put food on the table through lockdown
  • Waitrose calls for the food retail sector to stand united in tackling food poverty and pledges to eliminate all avoidable on-farm food waste

Waitrose has teamed up with some of its biggest suppliers* and food distribution organisation FareShare in a new trial that will redirect surplus farm food** to families in need - the next phase of its Give A Little Love Campaign.

From 1 March through to 30 June, Waitrose will be providing funds to FareShare to contribute to the distribution of surplus food from its farms, taking away all handling costs from farmers and helping them to maximise the number of donations they can make. This includes diverting food surplus directly from Waitrose’s own farm on the Leckford Estate***. 

In total, over five million surplus apples, cucumbers, crooked carrots, mushrooms, peppers, sweet baby sprouts and tomatoes will be redirected - aiming to create more than one million meals for vulnerable families across the UK.

In addition, with low levels of food surplus across protein food types and FareShare identifying this as an area where more supply is urgently needed, Waitrose has also purchased and will provide one million British eggs (donated by Stonegate) and almost 22 tonnes of British beef****(donated by Dovecote Park) to support vulnerable families.

The trial follows reports from Child Poverty Action Group that 80 per cent of low-income families in the UK are financially worse off as a result of the Covid pandemic***** - with many struggling to put food on the table during lockdown. 

James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose, comments: “We’ve all been inspired by the brilliant work Marcus Rashford has been doing, and we believe there is now a real opportunity for the industry to stand united and help tackle food poverty right from the farm.

“While farm surplus is put to good use, we must do everything in our power to divert any edible food we can to families that need them during this pandemic. As the only supermarket to own and run its own farm, we know how much pressure farmers are under to keep the nation fed, so it’s vital this burden and cost does not rest on their shoulders. This is why we will be funding all handling costs until the end of June to get food on the plates of those that need it most. This is just the start and we hope this will lead to us achieving our goal to one day eradicate all avoidable and edible farm waste.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO of FareShare, comments: “This is a significant moment in our battle against food waste and hunger in the UK. Working with Waitrose farms and suppliers offers FareShare a fantastic opportunity to access food that would otherwise end up going to waste, at a time when millions of people are going hungry across the UK. 

“FareShare has pioneered smaller projects with farmers, growers and producers to stop food waste through our Surplus with Purpose scheme, but far more still needs to be done, and the involvement of Waitrose in tackling food waste is a major step forward.”

Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “Food waste is one of the most significant environmental challenges that we face. I commend Waitrose, their suppliers and farmers who are working to help divert food to FareShare.  

"As we emerge from a difficult winter, it is vital that we minimise on-farm food waste and ensure that surplus food is diverted to those who need it. This project will make a real difference to lives across the country, and I hope that others in the food supply chain will take similar action.’

The support is part of the John Lewis Partnership’s Give a Little Love campaign which aims to make a lasting difference to some of those hit hardest during the last year.

Since the pandemic started, FareShare has had to double the amount of food it distributes to meet the rising demand.  Home-Start continues to see families facing isolation and struggling to provide basic needs such as food, heating and clothing. 

The Give a Little Love campaign has already raised over £3million for long term charity partners FareShare, Home-Start and local community groups, with a further £2million pledged last month. Waitrose and John Lewis aim to support struggling families impacted by the pandemic with a raft of initiatives designed to provide nutrition, warmth and comfort. The Partnership will extend its support by pooling the expertise and passion of Partners, resources, networks and time to meet the specific needs of the most vulnerable in society.

Learn more about how Waitrose is reducing food waste HERE.


*Waitrose suppliers involved in this activity include Worldwide Fruit, Staples, Produce World, Dovecote Park and Stonegate. Initially, Waitrose and its suppliers will donate:

  • One million (160 tonnes/ 14,000 cases of) British apples (via Worldwide Fruit)
  • Three million (15 tonnes of) sweet and succulent baby British sprouts (via Staples)
  • 81,000 (9 tonnes of) British carrots and other root vegetables (via Produce World)
  • 200,000 (five tonnes of) mushrooms (via Waitrose’s farm on the Leckford Estate)

Funding will also be provided to purchase:

  • 1 million British eggs (via Stonegate)
  • 22 tonnes of British beef (via Dovecote Park)

**The food being redirected is typically considered as surplus due to falling outside of standard industry specifications. Rather than being used for alternative means, such as anaerobic digestion (for fuel) it is being redistributed to families that need them during this critical time.

***Waitrose has farmed on the Leckford Estate for over 90 years and is the only remaining supermarket in the UK to have its own farm. Similarly, it is the only supermarket to sell produce that has been grown, picked and packed directly from its own farm - including mushrooms, apples, pears, cider, sparkling wine, apple juice and flour.

****Equivalent of 52,620 meals.

*****Reference HERE.

About the John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis and Waitrose. Started as a radical idea nearly a century ago, the Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK and amongst the largest in the world, with over 78,000 employees who are all Partners in the business. For all intents and purposes, the Partnership is a social enterprise; the profits made are reinvested into the business - for customers and Partners. John Lewis operates 42 shops plus one outlet across the UK as well as johnlewis.com. Waitrose has 331 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 59 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service, Waitrose.com, as well as specialist online shops including waitrosecellar.com for wine and waitroseflorist.com for plants and flowers.


FareShare is the UK’s largest food redistribution charity, with more than 30 warehouses across the UK. It takes food from the food industry that can’t be sold in shops, either because of packaging errors, a short shelf life or overproduction. That food, which is the same as the food you’d eat at home, is then redistributed through a network of 11,000 frontline organisations, across the UK such as homeless hostels, school breakfast clubs, domestic violence refuges, older people’s lunch clubs, food banks and hospices. Since the pandemic, FareShare has more than doubled its work, providing the equivalent of more than 2 million meals a week to people who might not otherwise eat.


Waitrose & Partners

Matt Clemens
Partner & Communications Manager
Tel: 07591 381399
Email: matthew.clemens@waitrose.co.uk

Ellie Gillingham
Partner & Senior Communications Officer
Tel: 07738 832522
Email: Eleanor.Gillingham@waitrose.co.uk