FareShare Cymru is calling all food companies in Wales to follow the example of Pembrokeshire-based Puffin Produce and donate food to meet the demand for its surplus food service.

The independent Cardiff-based charity, which was established in 2010, is part of the wider FareShare network of 25 regional centres across the UK.

Covering south and west Wales, while also working in partnership with FareShare Merseyside to support charities in north Wales, the charity redistributes surplus food to 239 charities across Wales.

With a team of 80 volunteers sorting food orders and deliveries to Community Food Members (CFMs), including homeless hostels, community centres, refugee centres and school breakfast clubs, once at its destination the food is either redistributed or repurposed into healthy balanced meals to support vulnerable members of the community.

Since April 2023, FareShare has redistributed 848.2 tonnes of food to people in need – the equivalent of 1,581,470 meals. However, the charity is now seeking an additional 60 tonnes of food per month to meet demand of the current charities and community groups it services.

While 176 charities are on the waiting list to receive food, there are food businesses in Wales, such as farmers, growers, producers, manufacturers and wholesalers keen to donate food that is edible yet wasted as it is too costly or unsuitable for commercial use.

Aiming to overcome the financial barriers of donating surplus food is the Surplus with Purpose Cymru fund. Funded by Welsh Government, the fund makes it cost-neutral for eligible food businesses to donate surplus food to FareShare Cymru, covering the costs of packaging, labour, shipping, and any other costs incurred in the process.

Sarah Germain, CEO of FareShare said: “We’re looking for businesses pan-Wales that can make use of the Surplus with Purpose Cymru fund and do good with their surplus food. We are only scratching the surface in terms of the surplus food that is available. Of an estimated 400,000 tonnes of food wasted in Wales each year, if 1% was edible it would be enough to provide 9 million meals”.

“While currently there are food businesses in Wales helping us get good quality food to those that need it most, we need to get more businesses on board to meet the ever increasing demand. With the fund making it so much easier for businesses to donate, we look forward to hearing from businesses in our plight to help reduce food waste.”

One food business in Pembrokeshire already using the FareShare Surplus with Purpose Cymru fund is Puffin Produce.

Haverfordwest based Puffin Produce has been donating its surplus food to FareShare Cymru since 2020. During a 12 month period, Puffin has donated 9.19 tonnes of surplus food, equating to around 21,800 meals.

By accessing the Surplus with Purpose Cymru fund, Puffin were able to donate over 30,000 kg of surplus cauliflower without incurring any additional costs.

Matthew Thomas, Puffin Produce said: “There is nothing worse than seeing decent food left to go to waste in the field, particularly when staff have put so much effort into growing and nurturing it. We were delighted when FareShare introduced its fantastic initiative, the Surplus with Purpose Cymru fund.

“Excess produce is commercially unviable due to the costs incurred to remove it, but by using the fund, it allows us to cover harvesting and labour costs so we can donate good food to a good cause.

“The opportunity to give surplus food to charity has never been more important. Not only has the fund made donating food easy, but the FareShare Cymru team are also a pleasure to work with.”

Working in partnership with FareShare Cymru, Puffin appreciates how surplus food can have a positive impact on its business, people and the planet.

Abigail Meyrick, Puffin Produce added: “Since working with FareShare, we have become aware of the further benefits of donating food. We have noticed that staff have taken a genuine interest in combating food waste and how our excess produce is helping frontline charities.

“FareShare give us regular updates of where our produce has gone and how it is used. This has a positive impact on staff morale. Staff can see that they are playing a crucial role, at all levels of the production process, in helping ease the burden of the cost-of-living crisis.

“We were also delighted to learn that by donating 32 tonnes of surplus cauliflower through the Surplus with Purpose Cymru fund, we have helped the planet. We have prevented almost 52 tonnes of CO2  being released into the atmosphere and saved over 49 million litres of water from going to waste in the growing process.”

To find out if your business is eligible to donate surplus food to frontline charities, please contact FareShare Cymru general office on 029 2036 2111 or email info@fareshare.cymru