How COVID-19 impacted surplus food redistribution in the Netherlands: An explorative study

Food Secur. 2022 May 21;1-9. doi: 10.1007/s12571-022-01291-y. Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 pandemic has been detrimental to food security globally. The Netherlands, despite its advanced stage of development, saw a surge in food insecurity among its most vulnerable citizens. Dutch food aid is managed by private charities and social organisations that often aim to address the problems of food insecurity and food waste by redistributing surplus food that is safe to consume. This paper investigates how the pandemic impacted surplus food redistribution in the country by employing an Exploratory-Descriptive-Qualitative approach. This is done by analysing data from interviews with relevant stakeholders involved in redistributing surplus food in the Netherlands as well as media reports on the topic. Our findings indicate that the interviewed organisations experienced drastic fluctuations in supply and demand. To cope with these changes, rapid organisational and supply chain innovation was observed. Next to this, there seems to have been disproportionate negative impact on smaller charities in comparison to bigger, better established organisations. Based on our findings, we discuss what the future of surplus food distribution in the Netherlands might look like and why changes made during the pandemic must be well documented and carefully analysed.

Keywords: Food aid; Food security; Food waste; Qualitative research; Surplus food.