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  • Writer's pictureNZ Food Waste Champions

Meat the Need

This is the first of a series of blog posts on organisations doing great things in the food waste reduction space! What is Meat the Need? Meat the Need is a new charity that supplies meat to those who need it most. The charity connects the dots between willing farmers who want to donate their livestock, to community organisations who want to receive that food. The process is simple:

1. Meat the Need partners with Silver Fern Farms to arrange the collection and processing of donated livestock from a farmer who wishes to make a donation.

2. They then deliver processed goods (usually frozen mince in 500g packets) through their distribution network to vulnerable people who need that food the most.

Who runs Meat the Need?

Meat the Need’s Founders are Siobhan O’Malley and Wayne Langford. Siobhan is a sharemilker on the West Coast. Wayne is a dairy farmer from Golden Bay. Both are passionate about farming and feeding vulnerable families in New Zealand. In the tough world of a start-up charity, they are glad to have each other’s support.

I met with Wayne and Siobhan in late August to find out more about Meat the Need and how this model might provide a viable option for food waste reduction in the future. Here’s what they had to say:

What motivates you? New Zealand produces way more food than we need, so it seems unjust that people in New Zealand go hungry. We believe it is always so much better to give a gift than money, which is why we are encouraging farmers around the country to donate their stock to our cause.

How does your organisation intersect with food loss? One example was a 20T donation of mince from a deer project in Fiordland. Meat the Need distributed this surplus food through our food networks and prevented it from going to landfill. We’ve also had a few instances of donated surplus stock. While addressing food waste isn’t our primary focus, there is potential to expand a ‘donation of surplus livestock’ function. We are also encouraged by new organisations like the NZ Food Network and the work of amazing food rescue charities.

What do you think are the barriers to addressing food loss in the primary production sector?

We do not think there is a lot of waste in the dairy sector because effectively farmers are wanting to produce a great product and to maximise their profits. There are however some ways where we could improve the overall food system, particularly in the processing and packaging stages. Farmers need to be informed and feel connected to these next stages and ultimately, the consumer.

What do you think are the opportunities in addressing food loss in the primary production sector?

There is a huge opportunity with technology. For example, in the horticulture sector we envisage artificial intelligence machines that do the second picks of fruit, so that this second tier can be distributed, even if at a lower price.

What sort of support would you like to reduce food loss and waste e.g. from government or an independent consultancy?

There is great technology out there to sort and grade food, but it is expensive. Perhaps investing in this technology is something the Government could think about.

Meat the Need has donated over 600 animals and provided over 300,000 meals. To find out more, visit:

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