Wonky food’ boss hits out after waste targets dumped

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A sustainable food business, which rescues wonky and surplus food, has criticised the Government’s decision to ditch proposals to force food companies to report on food waste.

Earth & Wheat recently announced it had saved nearly 500 tonnes of food from going to waste in two years as part of its mission to make UK consumers eat more sustainably.

However, environment minister Rebecca Pow has written to campaigners to state that Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) had ‘no plans’ to take action to impose mandatory targets.

This is despite a government pledge made in 2018 by then environment secretary Michael Gove that it would take bold action to tackle food waste. He announced plans for annual reporting of food surplus and waste, to be followed up by mandatory targets ‘should progress be insufficient’.

James Eid founded Earth & Wheat in the spring of 2021 with the launch of the world’s first ‘wonky bread’ subscription box which involved working with bakeries around the country and ‘rescuing’ their odd shape or sized but perfectly good-to-eat baked goods from ending up in landfill.

He said: “News that the Government has decided not to implement mandatory food waste reporting is extremely disappointing. It pledged to bring plans forward for companies to report annually on its food surplus and waste and it has now backtracked on this.

“This was a golden opportunity for the United Kingdom to have led from the front in tackling food waste and the Government has blown it. The UN set a target of reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2030 under the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 and it seems extremely unlikely the UK will meet this now that it has ditched these proposals.

“I encourage food companies of all sizes to provide focus in reducing food waste, whether compulsory or not.”

After witnessing the ‘eyewatering’ amount of food thrown away on-site due to strict shop standards at family-owned bakery business, Signature Flatbreads, Eid launched Earth & Wheat and started redistributing baked goods, such as pancakes, crumpets and tortilla wraps, from the Dunstable-based bakery two years ago.

Last year, the business management student, who is set to graduate from Lancaster University, ventured into the ‘wonky veg’ market and began working with UK farms and rescuing all their imperfect but still tasty produce too.

Eid’s aspiring FoodTech brand has now saved more than 446 tonnes of bread and over 38 tonnes of vegetables – an astonishing achievement for a start-up business in such a short timescale.

The ‘wonky empire’ has launched almost a dozen new boxes including Breakfast Boxes, Loaf Boxes, a Pastry Box, and five types of Bulk Boxes for Croissant, Pan au Chocolate and Muffin lovers – some of which are available as plant-based as Eid looks to disrupt this marketplace too. The subscription options are weekly, fortnightly, every three weeks or once a month and can still be paused or stopped at any time. There are single purchases available too.

Earth & Wheat has also overseen the donation of more than 300,000 meals to UK food charities which deliver surplus food to those people most in need.

Eid said: “It’s a huge milestone for Earth & Wheat to have now rescued 500 tonnes of food from going to waste and with a dozen new boxes added to the range and more on the way we will continue with our mission of reducing food waste to help save the planet.

“Food waste from manufacturers accounts for around 25 per cent of UK food waste every year [according to WRAP) and we need to do all we can to get this number down, as even when a crumpet or cucumber isn’t in perfect shape it still tastes exactly the same.

“Earth & Wheat have shown that wonky is wonderful and we hope more and more people will join our mission to taste more and waste less.”

The brand showed on average an individual weekly subscription to Earth & Wheat bakery saves 153kg of CO2eq per year, while each box saves 2.9kg of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere which means over the last two years its customers, or ‘wonky warriors’ as they are affectionally known, have saved 306kg of CO2eq overall each.


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