28 November 2014

On Friday 28th November 2015, Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D officially opened the first Bia Food Initiative (BiaFi) warehouse, which is based at Little Island Business Park in Cork. 

BiaFi is an Irish charity, formed in June 2012, which aims to provide a socially responsible, environmentally sensitive, business friendly alternative to wasting good food. Biafi acts as a bridge between the Food Industry and the charity sector and aims to save some of this surplus food (estimated at upwards of 50,000 tonne per year ) and direct it to people in need – matching surplus with scarcity. 

BiaFi plans to accomplish this through the establishment of a national network of food redistribution centres. This network will capture surplus food nationally and deliver it, through existing charities nationally. BiaFi has now opened the first pilot redistribution centre in Munster with help and support from local and national businesses. They aim for it to be a self-funding and sustainable organisation within 3 years. Bia is a sister organisation to FoodCloud which puts local shops in contact with local charities to pick up food at the end of the trading day while Bia operates regionally at warehouse level.

Speaking at the opening of the Munster redistribution centre, the Tánaiste stated ‘Bia Food are leading the way by example with this initiative that they have put into motion here in Cork. The idea that local communities will now benefit from surplus food is excellent and I commend the project highly. I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the initiative over the coming years to further combat the food scarcity issue’. 

Speaking at the launch event, Jack Dunphy, Chairman of BiaFi said ‘Each year in Ireland we generate one million tonnes of food waste, while one in ten Irish people experience food poverty. Not all of this food is actually waste. Large quantities are better described as surplus food. This is perfectly good food that, as a consequence of the modern food system, does not reach consumers and invariably ends as waste. We want to change that’.

Karen Horgan, Project Manager of Bia added ‘BiaFi provides a one-stop-shop for food businesses to donate their surplus food and grocery products in a fast, efficient and safe way, while reducing their disposal costs and making a very positive and practical contribution to the communities in which these businesses operate.  Thanks to support from public and private enterprise, we have been able to invest in the latest technology to ensure that the surplus food gets to those in need as efficiently as possible”

In addition, it will provide charitable groups throughout the country with access to large quantities and varieties of surplus food, which will reduce their current spending on food, thus freeing up precious funds for other core activities. To date, Bia Food Initiative has received tremendous help and financial support from local and national businesses and organisations such as Tesco, Supervalu, Centra, Cross Refrigeration, Ford Ireland, Aldi, Fuzion Communications, CIT, CTC, EPA, Irelands Fund, Upton Foundation and JP McManus Fund.