Food surplus

Surplus food, consisting of finished food products (including fresh meat, fruit and vegetables), partly formulated products or food ingredients, may arise at any stage of the food production and distribution chain for a variety of reasons. Foods which do not meet manufacturer and/or customer specifications (e.g. variations in product colour, size, shape, etc.) as well as production and labelling errors can generate surplus in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors for instance.

Surplus food may be redistributed provided that is fit for human consumption and compliant with all food safety requirements, as specified by EU rules on food safety and food information to consumers as well as relevant national rules.

Foods suitable for food donation is:

  • Perishable food products nearing the ‘use-by’ date;
  • Non-perishable food products nearing and possibly beyond the ‘best before’* date; Incorrectly weighed or measured food products that cannot be sold;
  • Harvested in the fields with the consent of the producer;
  • incorrectly labelled food products – as long as all mandatory information including allergens and ingredients can be provided;
  • Damaged, imperfect items and bulk ends where food safety and food information to consumer have not been compromised;
  • Unopened, oversupplied items, food product returns or shipping errors;
  • Out-dated promotional or seasonal items, discontinued products and other inventory to be cleared out

*not every EU country allows the donation of food that exceeds its expiry date, e.g. in Poland it is not possible

Why should food and drink manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers donate surplus food?

Food donations are beneficial to food and drink manufacturers and retailers and wholesalers because they contribute to:

  • making environmental improvements and tackling food poverty;
  • cooperative action in a context of increasing food poverty;
  • fostering community engagement;
  • food waste prevention;
  • optimising the production process and the management of inventories;
  • potential for reducing disposal costs;
  • improving the reputation with customers and stakeholders;
  • tax deductions and fiscal incentives, where applicable.