Update Post: November 28, 2023 10:29 pm
According to the Food Sharing project, two mobile applications for transferring food between people were launched in Russia in 2023: Karmitt and EdaDoma. The essence of their work is similar: on the platforms you can place ads for the transfer of products that for some reason were not needed or, on the contrary, find the necessary products close to home that someone gives away.
In Russia, the volume of food waste is about 18 million tons per year, according to calculations by the Russian Food Bank. At the same time, according to Rosstat, about 20 million people live below the poverty line in the country. They often have difficulty purchasing even necessary food products: 16% of Russians spend almost all their income on food.
Much food waste is preventable: quality food can be sent to those who need it before it is no longer fit for consumption. Sharing food has a double benefit: it reduces food waste and reduces damage to nature, it saves resources spent on food production and makes it possible for people in need to get food for free.
But if there are no problems with the transfer of food between consumers in Russia, then for large organizations this remains an expensive pleasure. ANO “Foodsharing” estimates that the cost of disposal is now 2 to 3.5 times less than the cost of organizing food sharing. This difference arises from the need to pay VAT. Large companies that transfer products to food exchange services for free are forced to pay up to 20% of the cost of the goods. If these foods are sent for disposal, there is no such obligation.
If tax barriers are removed, 1.2 million tons of food can be saved. This is enough for everyone in need.
The LDPR faction prepared a bill this summer to abolish VAT on goods intended for food sharing in retail chains. The project had the support of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. According to the Secretary of State and Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Viktor Yevtukhov, the corresponding amendments to the Tax Code will make it possible to kill two birds with one stone: solving humanitarian issues and the problem of excessive accumulation of waste. But the bill has not yet been submitted to the State Duma.
According to Yulia Nazarova, president of the Russian Food Bank, if tax barriers were removed, it would be possible to redistribute about 1.2 million tons of food.
“This volume will make it possible to provide food to absolutely all Russians who find themselves in a difficult life situation. Now, thanks to food exchange, only a few thousand tons of food are redistributed per year,” he says.
For the effective implementation of food exchange in Russia, an established infrastructure for the redistribution of goods from businesses to consumers is also necessary. There are other barriers too. For example, it is necessary to establish a process for working with the federal information systems “Mercury” and “Honest Sign”, which will allow companies to donate additional categories of products to charities, including those of animal origin, says Nazarova. Now it is mainly cereals, bread and vegetables.