The food waste fight: new plan to bring entire industry on board

It signals a move towards greater transparency on the issue with the aim of reducing waste quicker.

27 September 2018
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image credit: Getty Images

In what is heralded as a world first, 90 retailers, food producers, manufacturers and foodservice operators have pledged to halve food waste in the UK by 2030. It’s part of a new plan that Wrap and IDG have developed called the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap.

What does the plan involve?

Signatories include all the major supermarkets, manufacturers like 2 Sisters Food Group, Cranswick, Greencore Group, Kerry Foods and Unilever and foodservice businesses and restaurant chains including Bidfood, Compass Group, Sodexo, Nando’s and Pizza Hut.

Adoptees of the Roadmap will publish food waste figures by September 2019. By that date, the aim is for half of the top 250 food businesses to be measuring, reporting and acting on food waste.

But by 2026, Wrap and IDG want all 250 companies to be on board with the plan.

However, the Roadmap encompasses the entire supply chain from field to fork, and will show the actions large businesses are taking to address food waste both in their own operations and by supporting their suppliers. It includes a template developed by Wrap and IDG to ensure food waste is measured in a consistent way.

Wrap also launched the Food Waste Atlas, which was described as the world’s first global reporting portal to allow the capture and reporting of global food loss and waste data in one place.

What’s the point of it?

Bringing the whole food industry on board aims to bring transparency to the issue. Last year, Wrap claimed that a lack of reporting from individual companies was a major barrier in the fight against food waste.

The industry’s previous commitment under the Courtauld 2025 agreement, which is a voluntary initiative to slash food waste by 20% by 2025, was also seen by many as not going far enough.

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD said the Roadmap presents a huge opportunity for every business within the UK food and grocery industry to provide reassurance for shoppers.

“UK shoppers see industry food waste at the top of their priorities and by working together with the total food chain, we’re delighted to have secured a world first, with the UK leading the way in this important area. As a result, I’m confident we will see continued momentum on this high profile initiative,” she added.

The plan also sets out how businesses can engage with consumers to help reduce their food waste. Currently, the UK has an annual food waste bill of £20bn, which is the equivalent to more than £300 per citizen.

As well, the scheme aims to ensure the UK meets the UN sustainable development target of halving per capita global food waste at both the retail and consumer level. UN estimates show that global food waste causes about £770bn a year in economic losses.

Who’s reporting already?

Tesco has been leading the charge on this issue by publishing its food waste figures since 2013, although Morrisons also revealed their own stats earlier this year. Now, Tesco has also publicised food waste figures for some of its suppliers.

It showed that 27 of Tesco’s major own-label suppliers wasted a total of nearly 700,000 tonnes of food in 2017-18, compared to the 53,126 tonnes Tesco wasted from its UK operations in the same period.

Drilling down into the details, G’s Fresh one of Tesco’s largest produce suppliers, supplying fresh and prepared vegetables and salads, recorded the highest percentage among those reporting, with 14.5% of its produce, amounting to 48,730 tonnes, going to waste.

Bakkavor, which supplies ready meals, salads, desserts, pizza and bread, said it had seen nearly 50,000 tonnes of food go to waste, which was 9.2% of its food. Global diary giant Arla said it had wasted nearly 400,000 tonnes of food in the period, which came in at 2% of its food.

Ten of the branded suppliers at Tesco, along with food wholesale operator Booker, have also pledged to tackle food waste and publish their data within the next 12 months, including Mars, Unilever and General Mills.

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