Food Waste

Top tips for maximising new food redistribution tool

By Katie Powell

Katie Powell

Food businesses in Bristol are finding appropriate homes for their food surplus using a new tool from Resource Futures and Bristol’s Food Redistribution Group. Resource Futures’ Katie Powell explains how it all works.

Bristol’s Food Redistribution Group is a working group for organisations who redistribute food in and around Bristol, chaired by environmental consultancy Resource Futures. It is a space for organisations to collaborate, tackle key challenges, and ensure food is going to those who need it. To inspire more food redistribution within Bristol, a tool has been developed to help food businesses understand which organisations can help them reallocate their food to those who will use it.

Access the food redistribution tool.

Designed for food service businesses, food manufacturing and production companies, food retailers, farms and more, it is very simple to use.

The tool consists of nine questions and we suggest answering as many as possible to obtain the most suitable recommendation. If you leave questions blank, this will give the same result as selecting all options for that question.

Here is some useful information to help you answer the questions as best you can:

1. Can you deliver your surplus food, or do you require collection? Some food redistribution organisations do not have the ability to collect surplus food – if you can deliver your surplus to them, let them know!

2. When are you available for food to be collected? If you need the organisation to collect your food, use these filters to select the time that works best for you. Most organisations can be available any time, with enough warning. If you do not have a time preference, leave this blank.

3. How much surplus food do you have? The organisations within Bristol’s Redistribution Group vary in size. Some can process pallets of food; others are set up to manage individual portions or a few crates of food. Answering this question ensures an organisation is recommended who can redistribute the amount of surplus you have to offer while it is still edible.

Car-full of gleaned apples from The Community Farm, collected by Avon Gleaning Network
Photo: Avon Gleaning Network

4. What type of surplus food do you have? Specific storage conditions are required for chilled and frozen food and only certain organisations can process these foods. Answering this question ensures the appropriate organisation is recommended for your food type.

5. Is your surplus food past its ‘best before’ end date? Although food past its ‘best before’ end date is still safe to eat, some organisations have restrictions, e.g., on whether they can redistribute food past its ‘best before’ end date directly to individuals or to other charities as intermediaries.

6. How many days remain until the ‘use by’ date of your surplus food? Answering this question helps organisations determine how long they have to redistribute your surplus while it is still safe to eat. If you have surplus without a ‘use by’ date, please make a best estimate of how long the food will last.

7. Is this a donation? Most redistribution organisations are run on donated food, but others may have the ability to pay for your surplus.

8. How would you prefer to liaise with a food redistributor? E.g., would you prefer to connect via email/phone, or an app?

9. How regularly do you expect to have surplus food? Some redistribution organisations rely on setting up long-term connections with food businesses to ensure a reasonably steady supply of food for the people they support. Others have the infrastructure to respond to one-off supplies of surplus food. If you have small and sporadic surplus amounts, Feeding Bristol can help you reach one of Bristol’s volunteer-led groups who can help you redistribute your surplus in your area.

One final tip… please aim to give redistribution organisations as much notice as possible – to help them, help you. If they are unable to help the first time, use the opportunity to set up a strong working relationship for the next time you have food to redistribute.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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