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EU guidelines on food donation helpful to reducing food waste

17 October 2017
by EuroCommerce -- last modified 17 October 2017

The European Commission adopted yesterday on the World Food Day, EU guidelines on food donation. Retailers and wholesalers welcome these guidelines as supporting efforts to recover and redistribute food to those in need, thereby helping to prevent food waste and fight food poverty in the EU. Retailers and wholesalers work hard to prevent food waste from happening in the first place, but if there is a need for food surplus redistribution, food donation needs to happen and made easier.


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Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce said: "We welcome the progress made on a number of practical concerns that retailers, wholesalers, and other stakeholders have raised to help reducing food waste. For example, VAT rates for food donations are now zero or close to zero in many, if not all EU countries. We also welcome the guidelines developed by the Commission as a good overview of relevant legislation that a business should be aware of and take into account when considering food surplus redistribution. However, the guidelines are limited to the interpretation and understanding of relevant EU legislation. We hope that it will also guide Member States in getting rid of national obstacles to donations. For retailers and wholesalers, it is very positive to see that important issues, such as responsibility and legal liability requirements, as well as hygiene, have been clarified in these guidelines."

We observe an increase in innovative solutions to reduce food waste or increase the effectiveness of food donations, for example in the area of matching of supply and demand by using digital applications. Initiatives such as the FareShare FoodCloud app in the UK, allow local charities and community groups to know how much surplus food they can expect at the end of the day. Christian Verschueren added: "We welcome innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in this area, as new ideas and new ways of working together are key to reduce food waste. We recommend further promoting them across the EU. Member States can play a role in encouraging these – and creating the right enabling environment."

EuroCommerce will support and disseminate the EU guidelines among its members. Its members are already committed to addressing food waste and food losses, through their own actions and by working with others. As part of this commitment, EuroCommerce is an active member of the EU Platform on Food Losses & Food Waste, and has participated actively in the drafting process of these EU guidelines. It has also developed guidelines on this subject together with FoodDrinkEurope and the European Federation of Food Banks.

For further reading on the sector's dedication to reduce food waste: see our report 'Rising to the food waste challenge'.

EuroCommerce is the voice for six million retail, wholesale, and other trading companies. Its members include national commerce federations in 31 countries, Europe's 27 leading retail and wholesale companies, and federations representing specific sectors of commerce.

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