At of the start of 2018, a new amendment to the Food Act came into effect in the Czech Republic, requiring all supermarkets over 400 square metres to donate unsold but still consumable food to charities. The main aim of the new regulation is to reduce food waste.
According to the Czech Federation of Food Banks, some 1,900 tonnes of food were collected in 2017, which were then redistributed to 70,000 people in need. Thanks to the new regulation, the amount of food donated to charity could increase fivefold.
Under the regulation, supermarkets can donate food with deformed packaging, incorrect labelling or items labelled with a minimum shelf-life.
Some supermarket chains in the Czech Republic have been involved in food donations even before the new regulation came into effect. Tesco, for instance, has cooperated with food banks since 2013:
“We donate several hundred tonnes of fruit, vegetables and also bakery products,” Tesco’s spokesman Václav Koukolíček told Czech Television.
He said food from their 154 stores is donated on a daily or weekly basis, and it is picked up by the food bank representatives themselves.
Similar regulation are in place in other European countries, such as Italy and France, where they collect up to 100,000 tonnes of food every year and up to 32,000 directly from supermarket chains.
Stores are not the biggest producers of waste, however. According to EU data, consumers are responsible for 53 percent of food waste. The average Czech consumes around 785 kilogrammes of food per year and discards between 100 to 200 kilos.
The European Union committed to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030. The new Food Act is one of the key factors to reach this goal in the Czech Republic.