The idea to create a Food Bank in Malta Bank to distribute packets of food,before they expire, to those in need, has been met with a positive reaction. However, food importers and supermarket operators have pointed out to TVM that although they are not against the idea, not that much food is in fact thrown away.
The Alliance against Poverty (Alleanza Kontra l-Faqar), an NGO led by Charles Miceli has appealed for a law to be introduced as has been done in France so that food products which are about to expire are given away for free to those in need and to charity organizations, instead of being thrown away. Mr Miceli said that many voluntary organizations already have warehouses and transport services which would make this law easy to implement.
“We are proposing a new law which would oblige supermarkets, food importers, large companies and food chains, that instead of throwing away any extra food it would be given to charity organizations to help them reduce their expenses”, Mr Miceli said.
France has recently introduced a law that supermarkets or food companies which have facilities larger than 4,000 metres squared need to pass on products which are about to expire to charity organizations or else risk incurring a fine. This idea has also been endorsed by Environment Minister Leo Brincat who said the government is considering a similar law.
The general manager of a Naxxar supermarket said that from the commercial point of view, supermarkets are continuously taking measures to avoid waste by ordering only as much as they need and by offering discounts on products which are about to expire. Malcolm Mintoff said that waste in supermarkets is relatively low because they have contracts with importers who take back any about-to-expire goods. However, he agreed that the idea of a structured Food Bank is a good one.
“As long as something good comes out of it and no harm is done to anyone, I don’t think it should be difficult to implement, as long as shops don’t have to incur additional expenses in order to contribute to this scheme. After all, any further expenses will only be reflected in retail prices for the consumers. On the whole, however, I think this idea can work to everyone’s benefit”, Mr Mintoff said.
Paul Camilleri from M&Z Marketing Limited, which imports food products, said that his company already voluntarily distributes food which is returned by supermarkets. He said that importers agree that in Malta there should be an organized system on how these products can be collected and distributed. Ray Portelli from Alf Mizzi & Sons, one of Malta’s main importers of food products, said that there is not much waste because they only take back perishable goods and destroy them.
The idea of a Food Bank in Malta is one of the initiatives of President Marie-Loiuse Coliero Preca. A spokesperson from the President’s office said that talks are underway to set up a foundation with the aim of collecting packed food which can be distributed to those in need, instead of being thrown away.