Expiring food will be donated to those in need

The Ministry of Industry and Trade supported a project to help citizens in need, providing for the transfer of high-quality food with an expiring shelf life (food sharing). We are talking about 18 million tons of annually utilized products. So far, retail chains can donate about 1 million tons to charity. Pilot projects for food distribution have already been launched by Pyaterochka and Magnit stores. Irina Dolgova, Associate Professor of the Department of Management and Business Law of the North Caucasus Institute, a branch of the RANEPA, tells why this phenomenon is beneficial not only to end consumers, but also to businesses.


The Ministry of Industry and Trade approved the idea of ​​food sharing development in the country. Perhaps this will help solve the problem of destroying good consumer quality food. As far back as last autumn, a corresponding bill was discussed in Russia, but so far it has not been adopted. Meanwhile, the problem remains relevant. Most likely, with such a measure, the state responds to the public demand for support for poor citizens. At the same time, it is important that the quality of charitable products will be controlled and comply with all necessary standards.

Almost 18 million tons of products worth 1.6 trillion rubles are thrown into the trash every year in Russia. rubles. These figures are 71 percent from household waste and 29 percent from public catering and retail chains. Not all of this food is unfit for consumption, especially for retailers. In addition to the “delay”, they are forced to get rid of a large number of standard and having all the necessary quality certificates, but unclaimed products. For example, seasonal apricots or strawberries lose their appearance very quickly.

Food sharing solves this very problem – free distribution of quality food, which for some reason cannot be sold, often these are products with an expiring shelf life. But there are many people in the country who need such help. At the same time, food sharing can regularly feed 3.6 million Russians without any problems. “What has Russia come to! In such a rich country and food sharing!” – I met a comment on the Internet. I would like to answer the author: in countries that are not considered poor, food sharing has existed for about 10 years. It is actively developing in Germany (the ancestor of the movement), Finland, Italy, France, Canada and other countries. A prime example is China, which opened more specialty stores selling such foods last year than in the previous ten years.


Improving the turnover of products is not only a social task, it contributes to the development of the circular economy and the improvement of the environmental situation. For example, food waste can be used as feed in agriculture. In addition, reducing the amount of discarded products reduces the amount of landfill waste and harmful gases released from it. These are also extremely urgent problems for Russia.

In our country, the development of foodsharing began in 2015, and since then certain experience has already been gained. Thus, the All-Russian Charitable Food Fund “Rus” operates as the first “food bank” in Russia. It provides food assistance to socially unprotected sections of the population throughout the country. Volunteers of the Foodsharing. Moskva independently collect food from donor organizations and distribute it to needy people, beneficiaries of charitable organizations, or send it in large quantities to the Vsrok NGO New Generation Online Discounter, which makes money on the rational distribution of food. On the Vsrok website, for each trading item, the expiration date and the number of products in stock are indicated. Unfortunately, on the scale of our large country, all this, of course, is not enough. But what hinders the development of this useful movement?

The first and main reason is the tax burden for business and the lack of a legislative framework. Today, it is more profitable for manufacturers and retailers who have unsold goods with an expiration date to write them off and dispose of them than to donate them to charity. Let’s imagine that the store has a stock of some product, for example, cookies – the batch expires in 5 days, and, judging by the amount of leftovers, we can already assume that the goods will not be sold. The current tax structure makes recycling more financially advantageous, although recycling also costs money. But not like charity, subject to 20 percent VAT. Therefore, the issue requires elaboration and coordination with the Federal Tax Service (FTS), in terms of further exemption of foodsharing from VAT.


In addition, a single mechanism for the transfer of such goods to those in need has not been approved at the state level. Therefore, there is a reasonable fear that products from the food-sharing category will enter the secondary market, where it is not always possible to ensure the protection of consumer rights in the field of product quality. Rospotrebnadzor should act as the main regulator in this matter in the most natural way.

In the meantime, the problem is being discussed at high levels of government, retailers X5 Group and Magnit announced the launch of a pilot project to distribute free food with an expiring date to the poor. So far, several stores in Moscow, Krasnodar and Chelyabinsk are engaged in charity work, which at the first stage of the program included in the distribution only bakery products with a short shelf life of 1-2 days. It is reported that the lists of those in need will be provided by Foodsharing and Rus, and volunteers will deliver the products.

It seems much more important to choose a form of food sharing that is adequate to the scale of our country, the size of settlements and the specifics of life in different regions. In some cases, this may be free distribution through centers for helping the poor, charitable organizations. In others, through the opening of special stores for products with an expiring shelf life, yesterday’s bread and ugly vegetables. Or you can simply install special shelves in stores from which food is allowed to be taken away for free. At the same time, it is important not to regulate this good idea, not to bureaucratize it, to make sure that people really have time to get the products before the expiration date. And then the life of needy Russians will be a little easier, and the life of the country as a whole, a little more environmentally friendly.

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