A pile of surplus bread and baked goods

Source: Getty Images / BryanAlberstat

The food industry, including bakery manufacturers, must “lead from the front” in the battle against food waste, according to the founder of a wonky food company.

James Eid of Earth & Wheat has urged manufacturers and retailers to “start taking food waste seriously”.

The calls come on Stop Food Waste Day (24 April 2024) – an annual activity designed to raise awareness of food waste and inspire change. Organisers of the event claim 33% of all food produced globally is lost or wasted every year and 8% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to this.

Earth & Wheat birthday cake with James Eid

Source: Earth & Wheat

James Eid, founder of Earth & Wheat

Fourth-generation baker Eid was critical of Defra when it ditched plans for mandatory food waste reporting last year. Despite the department launching a new consultation last month after several supermarkets wrote to Environment Secretary Steve Barclay to revive the plans, Eid said it does not go far enough. As such, he believes the industry should “unite” and “make meaningful change”.

“Food manufacturers and retailers are presented with a great opportunity to lead the battle against food waste, the ball is in our court now,” he stated.

Eid noted the speculation that the plans may now be revived as per the consultation but said bringing them into force could take even more time, particularly if there is a change of government.

“The food industry needs to unite and self-govern on how it reports its food waste and set the standard,” he added. “We need to go further than what the government even wanted it to do before it scrapped the proposals and create meaningful change within the industry. This is a huge opportunity for the UK to lead from the front and drive a positive impact in reducing food waste in the long term.”

Earth & Wheat was created in 2021 to redistribute food waste from Signature Flatbreads, the business owned by Eid’s family, via a direct-to-consumer website. The brand has since partnered with other independent food suppliers, including bakeries and farms as its range expanded to not only include bread, but fruit and vegetables too which would have otherwise been thrown away due to their imperfect nature or overproduction.

Since its inception it has saved 600 tonnes of food from going to waste and set a target to increase this to 1,000 tonnes by the end of the year.