Even though the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Food Waste Index Report 2021 found that the most food-waste happens in households that does not mean there is no need for improvement in companies especially in the food service and retail sectors.
But first of all, what is food waste? If you have not read our blog post “Food waste, what’s in a name?” I recommend it to you.
But as a quick reminder, here is the definition according to the UNEP: “Food waste refers to food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, of good quality and fit for consumption, but still doesn’t get consumed because it is discarded[…]. Food waste typically (but not exclusively) takes place at retail and consumption stages in the food supply chain.” It is important to mention that food waste refers to both food that is still safe to consume as well as spoiled food that is no longer safe for human consumption. Some of the reasons why food goes to waste are because of overproduction, mishandeling or simply because it has been left to spoil.
There are different ways for a company to fight food waste. In this article, we will try to categorise these practices into 4 actions.
- Raising awareness
As a company, you should implement strategies that make it easier for employees to avoid food waste. You can transform your business model and raise awareness among your employees, which will lead to greater long-term results. Here are some examples of transforming your business model: optimise the cold chain to avoid product waste, promote short distribution circuits and implement a system for reusable containers for left-overs/take-out in the companies’ restaurant or cafeteria. Other awareness raising examples could be: anti-waste challenges, posters in lunchrooms, training and many others…
- Sale strategy
Supermarkets can sell products that are close to the best before date, bread/pastries from the previous day, fruits or vegetables that are “ugly” and those with damaged packaging at half price instead of throwing them away. It is important to point out that the best before date1 (Read the article here) or damage packaging is not always a sign of a defective or non-consumable product.
Sometimes to avoid food waste, it is enough to simply change the display in the shop to sell it quickly, change the design to make it more attractive or the packaging to make it easier to store or use.
At the same time more and more companies are using apps to fight food waste. Among the best known are Too good to go, Karma and Phenix. They allow users to be put in contact with restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries and cafés. The concept is simple; allow restaurants, supermarkets or bakeries, cafes to sell their surplus food at a discount. All you must do is to register on these apps. As a company, the aim is to avoid having unsold food at the end of the day. As a user the interest is to be able to buy food at lower cost from the companies closest to you.
One way of redistribution is being able to donate food to people or non-profit organizations instead of throwing it away or not using it. Several companies are involved in the fight against food waste through this action. This is also the case of the companies that collaborate with Bruised Food Club in the weekly markets, they commit providing food rather than throwing it away, thus participating in helping people in vulnerable socio-economically situations .
- Transformation/ Recycle
Processing for better consumption. According to UNEP “Fruits and vegetables, plus roots and tubers have the highest wastage rates of any food.” UNEP
Among the “ugly” fruits/vegetables ready to be thrown away, there are companies that use them to make fruit/vegetable juices or soups in order to fight food waste. The aim is either to sell them or to donate them. There are also restaurants that specialize in cooking with leftovers, “ugly” products or products that will be thrown away.
Transforming to create something else suitable for human consumption. Some companies have been able to capitalize on this to create their own business. Among them there is a company that uses surplus bread from bakeries and sandwich makers to replace barley in its beer. Some other examples are a company that uses grain from beer brewing to make protein bars, or one that turns coffee cherry pulp into flour.
What if food waste can’t be avoided?
As for food that unfortunately can only be thrown away, companies can always give a second life to this food. There are companies that transform food waste into compost for agriculture. Moreover, by classifying the organic waste, it can be used to produce biogas, as is the case in Sweden.
Whether for ecological, economic, ideological or other reasons. There are many ways for your company to reduce and combat food waste.
Figure 1: Food waste management framework. Source: Eriksson M. (2015)
1 “The best before date, sometimes shown as BBE (best before end), is about quality and not safety. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Its flavour and texture might not be as good. “ food.gov.uk
Written by Lisia MITSOKO OKIA
UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021
Website : blog.recommerce.com « 13 sites et Appli Anti-Gaspi qui verdissent votre Smartphone »
Website: prescouter.com « Profitable sustainability: 10 companies making food waste edible again»
Website: workforimpact «10 companies fighting food waste»
Eriksson M. (2015) Prevention and Management of Supermarket Food Waste: With Focus on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Doctoral thesis 119, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Uppsala