Supermarkets have become more economical and this leads to shortages in food banks

The boxes that the food bank distributes are slowly becoming empty. According to the food bank, this is due to the supermarkets’ anti-waste policy, which leaves them with too little to donate. “Tomatoes with spots are now also sold, they would rather come to us.”

Photo for illustrative purposes – Food Banks Netherlands

“Companies themselves are trying to prepare as much as possible. That’s good, but there’s not much left for us.” Such Marja van Amstelveen’s food bank problem together. Her observation is shared, also in Amsterdam and Krommenie, they see the offer falling. Thus states customer Corrie Blanken that the supply of fresh items in her food bank, such as vegetables, fruit and meat, appears to be shrinking. “My doctor told me to eat healthier, but I don’t know what to pay for it.”

Waste as little food as possible has been one of the food bank’s core values ​​since its foundation. It is a pursuit that is also pursued by a growing number of entrepreneurs. The supermarkets introduced ‘throw-away discounts’ and through measures such as Too Good To Go, customers take the last few back home with them.

The policy is bearing fruit for the supermarkets. The amount of product wasted has fallen significantly in recent years, according to self-reports from supermarkets Albert Heijn, Aldi, Jumbo, Lidl and Plus. While 3.6 percent of food in 2018 did not reach consumers, that percentage was more than halved in 2020 to 1.6 per cent.

‘Twenty percent less’

The Food Bank is happy about the attention to waste. Less fortunate is the declining number of donated products. Michel Sanders from Amsterdam’s food bank estimates that the donations in his food bank In the last few years has fallen by 20 per cent.

At Amsterdam’s food bank, this decrease primarily relates to fresh products. “We still get biscuits and pretzels, but healthy products are still more difficult, while we like to provide products for a healthy meal.”

“Supermarkets are buying less, it is also noticeable that there are more empty shelves in the supermarket”

michel sanders, food bank amsterdam

Sanders cites several reasons for the decline. “Many batches have been taken to Ukraine because they felt that the need was greater there. There is simply less production because raw material prices are rising – the supermarkets are buying less. It is also noticeable that there are more empty shelves in the supermarket.”

Old cucumbers and tomatoes

But according to Sanders, the decline has been noticeable for years because the supermarkets want to waste less. “Of course, you have the throw-away discount and the Too Good To Go initiatives, but the supermarkets have also become less strict with what they sell. Older cucumbers and tomatoes with spots are now sold, so less goes to us.”

According to Sanders, there is a competition underway with several initiatives for the remaining parties. Being aware and acting quickly is the key to getting enough. “If you get a call, you have to pick it up right away on the same day, or another initiative will take it.”

As many donations

Albert Heijn says that it actually actively fights food waste, but does not donate fewer products to the food bank. According to the supermarket, the number of donations has been roughly the same in recent years. The supermarket focuses its anti-waste campaigns on products that are not suitable for the food bank.

“We must not give the products in the ‘rest’ packages to the food banks”

spokesman albert heijn

“An example of this is ‘AH Overblijvers'”, says a spokesman. “These are packages of products that are left over at the end of the day and are approaching a best before date. We cannot/must not give the products in the packages to the food banks. These are often fresh/chilled products, which it is important that food safety and quality is maintained.”

The anti-waste app ‘Too Good To Go’ also states that they are in different waters than the Food Bank. Through the app, shops and restaurants offer their near-expiration products for little money.

Like Jan Disseldorp, who runs a culinary shop in Amsterdam. Every day he sells products via the app, and he confirms that the app does not target the same products as the Food Bank. “The things I sell this way are sandwiches, meals, salads, yogurt or milk. All of that has a short shelf life, so it’s not suitable for the Food Bank. I don’t think that app will get in the way of the Food. Bank. “

Increasing demand

Nevertheless, the food banks are worried, it seems that it will soon be necessary to buy food from the food bank in Amsterdam. Spokesman Oscarine Vonk calls it a worrying development.”What we buy is also much more expensive due to inflation. If we want to do it, more money must come in.”

And this while the demand for food continues to rise, partly because the food bank decided this month to lower the threshold for receiving a food parcel.

“Even if the number of customers would remain the same, we wouldn’t be able to meet every demand,” says Vonk. Still, the food bank does not want to turn anyone away. “We never no-sell. If a customer qualifies, they will be placed on the list. But that means customers get less.”

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