Most organisations involved in the redistribution of surplus food, including Governments and the charity WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) are currently reporting on the amounts of food that are redistributed – usually in tonnage and a conversion of that tonnage into its ‘meals’ equivalent. On the Neighbourly website we record surplus in tonnes, and then convert this to number of meals to display on our company and branch pages. The Courtauld 2025 Redistribution Working Group, led by WRAP, have recently agreed that there is inconsistency in how the amount of food redistributed is being conveyed by the different parties involved and that this should be addressed.
There are two main ways the amounts of food redistributed are referred to:
· As a weight (tonnes; kilogrammes)
· As an equivalent number of meals
So far, a range of different factors for the conversion of weight into the number of equivalent meals have been used (for example 450g, 500g, 700g), which has made comparisons and reporting difficult. Following consultation with the Working Group, a review of relevant scientific literature and reference books and discussion with Public Health England, WRAP has recommended the use of 420g as a guide for the ‘average’ meal size, for the purposes of illustrating the amounts of food being redistributed. There is currently no official figure for an ‘average’ meal weight (due to the many factors that influence that, such as the meal occasion, the meal type, the individual), but there is research that can be used to create a sensible figure for expressing food surplus as ‘meal equivalents’.
In line with WRAP’s recommendation, Neighbourly will now be reporting meal equivalents using 420g as a meal size – giving 2,381 meals from 1 tonne of surplus. It’s important to note that this number is a guide only – it does not imply that this many balanced meals could be made from the food surplus but illustrates what the amount of food surplus might equate to.
To date (June 2018) the Neighbourly food surplus scheme has supported the redistribution of over 2,360 tonnes of surplus food, the equivalent of around 5.6 million meals, using this new calculation.
Further information can be found on the WRAP website.