Food waste and surplus – how the NFU can support you

Environment and climate
City Harvest volunteer, Hibbo, holding a selction of vegetables in a pallet in front of stacked pallets.

Photograph: City Harvest

Farmers and growers can and do have a positive impact on reducing waste and surplus while maintaining profitable, environmental farming practices. 

On this page you can hear from fellow farmers and growers on how they're redistributing food surplus back into the community, explore our helpful resources and find out where you can get guidance and support on food waste reduction.

5 ways farmers and growers reduce food surplus and waste

  1. Managing risk by supplying multiple customers, and working with buyers to manage crop flushes/deficits through promotions or specification changes.
  2. Unspoilt crops unfit for human consumption are used or sold as animal feed.
  3. Many farmers and growers partner with food surplus redistribution charities. Some are able to cover the costs of harvesting and logistics to take produce directly from farms. You can find a list of charities who can work directly with farmers further down this page.
  4. Using food waste to aid soil nutrition and/or renewable energy production when sent to anaerobic digestion, composted or incinerated for energy recovery.
  5. Measuring food waste using WRAP’s ‘Target, Measure, Act’ toolkit.

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Where we stand on food waste

Food surplus and food waste occurs at all stages along the supply chain, from production, distribution, and consumption. Each year, a significant amount of food becomes either waste or surplus, due to a range of different factors which can have consequences on both an environmental and social level. By understanding the contributing factors and implementing practical solutions, we can reduce waste and surplus, and create a more sustainable food system.

Farmers play an essential role in providing food for our communities, and many of the causes leading to food waste are due to circumstances beyond their control. Climatic events, supply chain unfairness and labour shortages, all contribute to food waste and surplus. The NFU is committed to enabling members in adopting practices that reduce waste, and ensure that waste from external factors is kept to a minimum, while maintaining productive agricultural operations.

Read the NFU's position and asks in full.

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Charities which work directly with farmers and growers

These charities are dedicated to minimising food waste and redistributing surplus food to those in need. Have a read through each one to find out how you can work with them.



FareShare is the UK’s largest, nationwide food redistribution charity. It's able to redistribute off specification, short-dated, mislabelled, unfinished and retail packaged products across all food types including fresh produce, dairy, meat, poultry and eggs.

To donate food, contact FareShare's Food Coordination team to inform them of your food offer via email at: [email protected] or call 020 7064 8911 
Hotline opening times: Mon- Fri: 9am-5pm.

Fareshare have also put together a guide for NFU members on everything you need to know about donating food.

The Bread and Butter Thing

The Bread and Butter Thing is a community focused, food waste redistribution charity which works to reduce food waste in the UK, while ensuring that surplus food goes to people who need it most.

You can get in touch via email at [email protected] or listen to the charity's video on how it works with suppliers.

Read how The Bread and Butter Thing has worked with growers across the UK, including NFU members, Chandler and Dunn.

The Company Shop

As it looks to divert more surplus goods, the Company Shop Group is enhancing its focus on the farm gate to identify new ways of capturing produce that may currently go to waste. This could include things like wonky veg or out-of-spec produce, surplus in bulk at the farm or pack house, or at harvest in the field.

Anyone looking to learn more about donating or selling surplus stock should contact [email protected] or call 0800 211 84 84.

You can learn more about the work they've done so far by reading our feature on the NFU's visit to the Company Shop's HQ.

Regional charities

City Harvest

Based in London, City Harvest works to redistribute food that would otherwise be wasted.

City Harvest puts surplus food to good use in a sustainable way by delivering free food for over 1 million meals a month to 350+ charities, including; children’s programmes, food banks, refuges for women fleeing domestic violence and families fleeing war-torn countries, and local groups across London welcoming the elderly and isolated.

You can get in touch with City Harvest's Food Team by calling 0207 041 8491, or emailing [email protected].

The Felix Project is a London based food redistribution charity focussed on fighting food waste and hunger. 

With four depots around London, The Felix Project can collect food surpluses from all over central London and from within a 100 miles radius.

Contact The Felix Project to discuss a collection and support millions of vulnerable people.


UKHarvest is a West Sussex based, not-for-profit redistribution operation. Equipped with a fleet of vans, large warehouses and an incredible team of volunteers they are able to collect perishable produce directly from farms and provide much-needed assistance to charities and vulnerable people in London and Southeast England.

Not only is redistribution a primary focus, but so is education and community engagement. They nurture those most food insecure, to live well, age well and to help combat social isolation.

If you are close to Hampshire, Sussex or Surrey and have produce you are looking to donate you can call UKHarvest on 01243 696940 (opt 1) or complete the web enquiry form.

The Oxford Food Hub

The Oxford Food Hub is based in Botley, Oxfordshire and redistributes surplus food to more than 200 charities and community groups.

Working mainly with wholesalers, supermarkets, restaurants and farmers and growers, the charity provides for a broad range of communities, with its support extending not only to food banks but also to warm spaces, homeless shelter, mental health support charities and children’s hospices, allowing them to divert funds to energy costs and other essential services.

If you have surplus to share, then you can contact the Oxford food hub via email at: [email protected], or call 01865 236420.

Food waste charities – get in touch with the NFU

Are you a UK-based food waste or redistribution charity working with British farmers? Then we want to hear from you. If you're interested in working with the NFU, please fill out our expression of interest form below and the NFU's food business unit and environment teams will be in touch.

Please tell us the name of your company/charity

Please give us the best email address to contact you on

Please give us a brief description of what you do and how you work with farmers/growers

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Farmer stories: hear and learn from other farmers

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This page was first published on 14 June 2023. It was updated on 20 March 2024.

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