Feeding Food Waste to Pigs

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Date: October 15th

Time: 10am – 11:30am

Room: Committee Room 12

Chair: Baroness Jenkin of Kennington


Huge quantities of food are wasted every year, with up to a third of global food produced ending up as landfill according to international reports. In the final instance this contributes to the fact that up to 1 billion people worldwide suffer from hunger and malnutrition. While there are various policies that could address reducing the amount of food waste in the first place, this meeting looked specifically at the potential for using the waste that does exist in an efficient and sustainable way.

The meeting heard from several speakers on the ways in which food waste can be recycled by feeding it to pigs. Although food waste was a traditional source of pig feed historically, in recent decades it has been replaced by grains and protein crops, primarily wheat and soybeans. Following the foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001, feeding food waste to pigs was banned, first in the UK and then in Europe as a whole. The meeting discussed whether this ban is still necessary and how food waste can safely be fed to pigs.

Listen to the Chair’s Introduction:


The speakers are listed below in the order in which they spoke.

Peter Jones, Director of Ecolateral

Peter T Jones was until May 2008 a Director of Biffa Waste Services Limited. He now operates as a freelance adviser in matters strategic relating to the waste, carbon and materials efficiency agenda. Peter retired as Chair of the DEFRA/DTI Resource Efficiency knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) in Summer 2009 but continues as a Board member of the reformed Resource Efficiency KTN. In 2003 he became a member of the DEFRA New Technologies Demonstrator Programme, their Data Advisory Panel, and the Sustainable Consumption and Production Taskforce (for which he Chaired a subcommittee looking at the issues around distributed energy systems in the UK which reported in 2008). He has given evidence to a range of Parliamentary Select Committees over the years on waste, sustainability, resource efficiency.

Listen to Peter’s presentation:

Peter gave an overview of food waste in the UK food system, how and where it arises, the competing economic and geographical factors that determine how it is dealt with and the necessity and possibility of more efficient management and systems to deal with it.

Tristram Stuart, Feeding the 5000/The Pig Idea

Tristram Stuart is the author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal (2009) which revealed that Western countries waste up to half of their food, and that tackling this problem is one of the simplest ways of reducing pressure on the environment and on global food supplies. Tristram set up the Feeding the 5000 (www.feeding5k.org), the flagship event of a global food waste campaign where 5000 members of the public are given a free lunch using only ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted. His latest project is The Pig Idea, which is currently raising 8 pigs on Stepney City Farm using legally available food waste from a range of catering establishments.

Listen to Trsitram’s presentation:

Tristram introduced and gave an overview of the Pig Idea Campaign.

Thomasina Miers, Founder of Wahaca restaurant chain

Thomasin studied at Ballymaloe Cookery School and worked as a freelance cook and writer, with influences from time spent in Mexico. In 2005 she won the BBC TV cookery competition MasterChef, and since then she has made several series of cookery programmes for television and written several books including Cook: Smart Seasonal Recipes for Hungry PeopleThe Wild Gourmets: Adventures in Food and Freedom and Mexican Food Made Simple. Tommi opened the first of her own restaurants, Wahaca, in the West End of London in August 2007, focused on Mexican street foods. Wahaca has grown, adding a further 3 restaurants and a mobile street kitchen.

Listen to Thomasina’s presentation:

Thomasina spoke about the experience of the chef/restaurateur keen to reduce food waste, and her reasons for setting up the campaign with Tristram.  

Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion In World Farming

Philip Lymbery is the CEO of leading international farm welfare organisation, Compassion in World Farming and prominent commentator on the effects of industrial farming. Under his leadership, Compassion’s prestigious awards have included Observer Ethical Award for Campaigner of the Year and BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming awards for Best Campaigner and Educator. He is a life-long wildlife enthusiast and lives in rural Hampshire with his wife and step-son.

Listen to Philip’s presentation:

Philip looked at the connections between food waste and animal welfare. How the food system, including the large quantities of waste, encourages a system of factory farming which is as much an animal welfare issue as an economic and environmental one.

Anna Price of Pig & Co.

Pig & Co is a free-range family pig farm in Cheshire run by Julian and Anna Price. Their pigs are reared entirely outside and they place a strong emphasis on allowing pigs to express their natural behaviour.

Listen to Anna’s presentation:

Anna outlined why she, as a pig farmer, supports the Pig Idea and address some of the concerns she has heard from other farmers.

Lizzie Press, The National Pig Association

Lizzie Press is currently Acting General Manager of the National Pig Association, which is allied to the National Farmers Union and which is the representative trade association for British commercial pig producers. Before joining NPA two years ago she worked for the global pharmaceutical company Elanco Animal Health.  Prior to that she worked as a technical fieldsperson for Britain’s largest pig producer, BQP, which specialises in high-welfare pork and pork products for Waitrose.

Listen to Lizzie’s presentation:

Lizzie presented the serious concerns the industry have with the Pig Idea campaign and the risk the NPA believe it presents of spreading disease. They worry that the Pig Idea is encouraging illegal feeding of food waste and that producing a workable and safe system that allows food waste to be used as food will be expensive for the pig industry and/or too hard to regulate.

Simon Fairlie, Author of Meat: A Benign Extravagance

Simon Fairlie worked for 20 years as an agricultural labourer, vineworker, shepherd, fisherman, builder and stonemason before being ensnared by the computer in 1990. He was a co-editor of The Ecologist magazine for four years, before joining a community farm in 1994 where he managed the cows, pigs and a working horse for ten years. He now runs Chapter 7, an organization that provides planning advice to smallholders and other low income people in the countryside. He is also editor of The Land magazine, and earns a living by selling scythes. He is the author of Low Impact Development: Planning and People in a Sustainable Countryside.

Listen to Simon’s presentation:

Simon focussed primarily  on the threat of classical swine fever, arguing that the links between its occurrence and swill feeding are tenuous, and that  feeding swill can only be  viewed as an unacceptable risk when pigs are reared on a dense industrial scale , which in many other respects is  unsustainable.  


Members of The Pig Idea campaign respond to the National Pig Association’s concerns:

Audience Questions and Answers: