What’s it all about?
Donating food involves giving food which is past its display until date, but within its use-by date, to local or national charities.
Within the waste hierarchy, donation of unwanted product is pretty much at the top of the chain after reduction. Many companies look to donating rather than trying to sell product as a means to support their Corporate Social Responsibility agenda. Some companies may feel that giving products away, or for a nominal amount to staff, is also a positive way to get colleagues to try products and as a small thank you.
The Good Stuff
- Avoids sending perfectly fine food to landfill or other disposal route which not only costs money but is arguably a “waste” of perfectly good food!
- Achieves a true triple bottom line effect giving financial, social and environmental benefits
- It’s one of the highest disposal methods in the waste hierarchy after elimination of waste and as such is a key part of a company’s waste strategy
- It’s a great way of creating a sense of community in the areas where your company has a foothold
- It's good for staff morale to think they are contributing to the community
- It’s a great way to have a positive CSR message for your company
Not so Good
- If not managed correctly it could be damaging to the brand if the products are not handled correctly or get into the wrong hands
- Maintenance of the product traceability is an issue which could impact on food safety procedures if not correctly managed
- There are things that cannot or you may not want to donate, not being clear about this could pose legal or moral ramifications e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Baby Food, products that may have been opened and alcohol.
- Agree a policy on charities to donate to e.g. what is your position on political groups or religious groups. Decide if you are happy for food to go to businesses e.g. farmers
- Decide if there anything you don’t want to or cant donate e.g. alcohol or animal by products for animal feed
- Develop a procedure if multiple locations are setting up local donations
- Check the status of charity before set up e.g. are they registered
- Agree how the process will work e.g. likely volumes, pick up cycles, costs, compliance with any temperature control. Make sure that both parties understand that the volumes cannot be guaranteed as its whatever is left over, unless you want to offer a minimum volume, however, this goes beyond donating unsalable food.
- Agree any de branding requirements to avoid any potential come back
- Agree ownership and confirm with your legal team around responsibilities for legal duties once it has left your possession
- If you are donating to farmers then duty of care for “waste” may apply – see animal feed section
- Ensure that there are no VAT consequences – this should be ok if the product is deemed “unsalable”.
- You will need to ensure that if products have been damaged that it has not affected the integrity of the food. Rules such as if bags have been punctured or films pierced need to be made to ensure you are not putting anyone in danger.
- Best before (BB) and Best before end (BBE) products can be donated up to one month after their BB/BBE date. It is up to the discretion of the charity, whether they choose to accept these products or not.