Food waste and the use of surplus food has become much more important to everyone over the last few years and is widely acknowledged to be a serious problem with environmental as well as social and economic consequences.
The global dimension to the food waste issue is clear — under current production and consumption trends, global food production must increase by 60 per cent by 2050, to meet the demands of the growing world population. Yet, more than one third of the food produced today is lost or wasted.
Retailers can influence the amount of food wasted both in the supply chain and at home and are committed to help drive down food waste across the value chain from farm to fork on a range of projects and initiatives, within their own operations and with suppliers and households
Cutting food waste in the supply chain
Around half of our food waste arises in the supply chain (including on farm and in food manufacturing).
The causes of food waste in the retail supply chain are many and varied, so retailers are taking a multipronged approach to addressing the issue.
Supermarkets are working with farmers and producer groups to tackle food waste and losses in agriculture, making the most of the entire crop in the field or more of the carcass of animals.
Other measures include reviewing current specifications for produce, smarter ways to forecast and opportunities to improve storage and transportation.
Tackling food waste in stores and distribution centres
Priorities are to provide fresh, quality food at best value to all their customers and to prevent food waste from occurring in the first place.
Food waste arises at retail level for a variety of reasons such as expiry of use by date; product recalls; breakages; damages; and products that have been taken out of the chill chain.
Initiatives to reduce waste include:
- Working on increasing the shelf life
- The promotion of products that are close to their end of life through prominent placements or promotion
- Ensuring that any food surplus to requirements is put to good use through processes such as redistribution to charities, use in animal feed and anaerobic
Working to ensure that excess food is redistributed
When retailers have usable excess stock they work with charities, manufacturers and redistribution organizations.
This initiative is well established in South Africa and in future blogs, we will visit this initiative and detail the successes of our retailers in making sure as much as possible goes to people who need it.
Retail is helping reduce food waste in the home.
Nearly half of all food waste is created in the home but retailers know that they have a key part to play in reducing this and are acutely aware of their customers’ desire to get the most value from the food they buy.
Retailers can help their customers reduce household food waste, make it easier to purchase the right amount and to store food in the best way to prevent food waste.
Initiative could include:
- Advice on how to use and store leftovers
- Providing recipe ideas to help customers use up surplus food
- Clarity on labelling and shelf life
- Freezing guidance
- Introducing innovative packaging and technologies to keep food fresher for longer
- Recyclable/compostable packaging
In upcoming blogs, we will explore and report on some of the initiatives that our retailers are busy with in our War on Waste.
extracted from an article published by British Retail Consortium:
BRC Food Waste Report – 2015