Food magazine recently caught up with Jason Hincks, CEO of Australia’s largest Food Relief organisation, Foodbank to chat about how the organisation works together with the food manufacturing sector to minimise wastage, and feed those in need.
Established 21 years ago, Foodbank was developed to act primarily as a conduit between the food industry and the welfare sector. Foodbank takes in surplus and donated food from manufacturers, and then distributes it throughout its 2,500 welfare agency partners nationally.
According to Hincks, Foodbank has distributed enough food to serve 200 million meals over the past ten years, with 29 million kilograms of food distributed last year alone, however in order to meet demand, more donations are needed.
“We have a constant dialogue with our welfare agencies and unfortunately demand is always outstripping supply, so although the food industry is incredibly generous, not only with their surplus food, but also with the food that they donate above and beyond the surplus food, there is still a shortfall between demand and supply,” Hincks told Food magazine.
“That’s the reason why we as a organisation are always looking for innovative ways to try and plug that gap between demand and supply, and also increase the number of key staple products that the welfare agencies need including breakfast cereals, pasta, pasta sauce, bread and milk – those everyday essentials.”
Hincks says that the dairy industry has been particularly generous in their involvement by pledging to donate one million litres of fresh milk each year. A number of key players in the food manufacturing space including Kelloggs and Goodman Fielder also stand out as businesses that have gone above and beyond in their involvement with the organisation.
In reference to surplus stock and wastage, Hincks says that food manufacturers in general have become significantly more efficient at reducing what they throw away, meaning that there is less surplus food to donate.
“The increase in efficiency within the food manufacturing space means that there is less and less surplus, so we are certainly not seeing vast quantities of surplus stock on a regular basis,” he says.
“Most of our surplus tends to come from products that have been tested in the marketplace as well as promotional products… so that’s the reason why programs like the one we have recently launched with Kelloggs, and like the one we have done previously with Goodman Fielder, is so important is because there just isn’t as much waste as there used to be.”
The programs that Hincks refers to involves manufacturers going above and beyond by pledging to donate additional food on top of the surplus units that have already been supplied. An example of this is the current promotion that Kelloggs is running called Breakfast for Better Days.
“Breakfast for Better Days has an internal target of giving away serves of Kelloggs cereal globally, and their target locally – in this promotion – is to give away six million serves of cereal. The promotion is set up so that for every box of cereal purchased during the promotional period, a serve of cereal is donated to Foodbank and to give you an idea of what the scale of that looks like, six million serves of cereal is roughly 200 tonnes of cereal.”
Hincks says that Foodbank has a policy of accepting all food that fits within food safety standards and encourages manufacturers that haven’t already been in contact with Foodbank to get in touch.
“The best thing to do is to give us a call and have a chat. We have been around quite a while and we tend to have a fairly good relationship with the food industry. It would be tough to identify a food manufacturer that hasn’t been engaged with Foodbank at some point, but we can always do with more donations," he says.
"If there are any food manufacturers out there that feel that they can make a contribution to Foodbank they should give us a call.”