By Daniel Hunter

The country's biggest food retailers are getting round the table today (Tuesday) to explore ways of getting even more of the food that isn't sold to redistribution charities.

Retailers' prime objective is managing stock so supply matches demand. They have invested millions of pounds in getting as close as possible to eliminating waste entirely.

All of the businesses attending the meeting are also long-term supporters of organisations, such as FareShare and FoodCycle, who collect what useable excess stock there is and offer it for free to people who need it. However, some of the produce retailers make available is rejected by the food charities because individual quantities are too small or because they don't consider it useful.

"Retailers' prime objective is eliminating food waste from their operations entirely," British Retail Consortium Director of Food and Sustainability, Andrew Opie, said.

"Currently, only five per cent of overall food waste comes from shops. But retailers are long-standing supporters of food charities. The businesses involved in today's meeting are already ensuring that what useable excess stock there is goes to people who need it.

"As with all of the environmental and community work retailers are involved in, they're always keen to identify ways of doing it better. Separately, retailers are doing huge amounts. The enormous progress on packaging shows collaboration and developing a collective understanding is the way to achieve more. Looking at this issue as an entire sector is another step forward in reducing food waste and supporting the people who live in our neighbourhoods."

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