Brands and retailers find ways to reduce food waste12 Oct 2022
From supermarkets selling imperfect ‘wonky’ vegetables to drinks brands using upcycled barley for plant-based milks, retailers and manufacturers alike are finding ways to reduce food waste across the value chain.
Despite efforts by grocery retailers and manufacturers, food waste continues to blight the food industry with over 88 million tonnes of food thrown away annually in Europe.
A societal, environmental, and business priority
An article by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has shed more light on this topic, making the case that tackling food loss is a “societal, environmental, and business priority.”
Reducing food loss is immensely achievable, its authors state encouragingly, suggesting that united efforts amongst all participants in the value chain could cut food loss by 50 to 70%.
Two-thirds of the food that would otherwise be lost could be redirected to human consumption; the remaining one-third would go to alternative uses, such as bio-based materials or animal feed, they add.
Some efforts are already being made to add value to such produce. Online companies such as Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market sell imperfect produce that cannot be sold to grocery stores while traditional brick-and-mortar supermarkets Lidl and Morrisons have rolled out “wonky vegetable” campaigns in their supermarkets in the UK, selling imperfect produce.
In 2021, AB InBev's Anheuser-Busch revealed it would invest $100 million to expand Evergrain, its subsidiary’s production capabilities to recycle waste barley and repurpose it for use in food and beverages.
Shifting food loss thinking
“Taking food loss and turning it into value could be beneficial, which is what AB InBev is doing by supporting their product creation of taking barley by products and turning them into a protein and fibre ingredient,” said Turner Wyatt, CEO at Upcycled Food Association, in a recent post.
“Food loss is not due to one person’s choices and it’s certainly not one person’s responsibility to solve, but that we must all come together and shift the way we think about food loss, food waste, and the opportunities to address them.”
So, what can grocery retailers and manufacturers do to reduce food loss? Well, firstly it involves a shift in mindset to think of food loss as an operational inefficiency that affects the business as a whole.
This mindset could then evolve beyond satisfying sustainability targets and towards opportunities that benefit the business supply chain by improving both the top and bottom lines.
To put that into practice is the next step, with companies requiring a new communicative approach with stakeholders in the food ecosystem and consigning business-as-usual practices as those of yesteryear.
Enormous potential to add value to sidestreams
According to the authors of McKinsey’s report, AB InBev’s investment is a great example of turning food loss into value.
By turning its barley by-products into a protein and fibre ingredient, a dairy-free protein drink and a protein ingredient was produced and made commercially available by the drinks firm.
“There is enormous potential to sell more of the food that farmers produce,” says the report. “Food that would otherwise be lost can be turned into new products and thriving businesses. Consider dedicating R&D resources to developing new revenue streams from nonmarketable food.”
Additives in US food products up 10% since 2001
18 Jul 2023
New research revealed that 60% of foods purchased by Americans contained technical food additives as of 2019, which was a 10% increase since 2001.Read more
Industry first: The Netherlands approves cultivated meat and seafood tastings
17 Jul 2023
The Netherlands has become the first country in Europe to approve tastings of cultivated meat and seafood in controlled environments, yet there is still a long way to go before widescale commercialisation is achieved.Read more
One-fifth of Brazilian whey protein products mislabelled
12 Jul 2023
One fifth of whey protein products sold in Brazil are mislabelled, according to one small survey, as the Latin American trade association ALANUR calls on authorities to act against brands that inappropriately advertise the nutritional attributes of the...Read more
New Nordic nutrition guidelines emphasise plant-based eating
11 Jul 2023
Nordic scientists and experts are now recommending that people should consume less meat and more plants for both their health and the health of the planet.Read more
Manufacturers await groundbreaking aspartame safety review
10 Jul 2023
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is preparing to release its findings on whether the sweetener aspartame is a possible carcinogen.Read more
Food sector pushes unhealthy choices on consumers, new report shows
7 Jul 2023
Regulators and retailers must take action to prevent European consumers from being led to make unhealthy food choices, experts say.Read more
How to revive stagnating plant-based meat sales
6 Jul 2023
Sales of plant-based meat are stagnating, products are being withdrawn, and brands are declaring bankruptcy – but Rabobank’s RaboResearch has identified five strategies that could help revive the category, and precision fermentation could be an NPD gam...Read more
UK consumer trust in supermarkets falls to nine-year-low
5 Jul 2023
Research by UK consumer review organisation, Which?, reports decreasing levels of trust in the food industry, with two-thirds of shoppers feeling ripped off.Read more
UK retailers flout unhealthy product regulation
4 Jul 2023
UK retailers are continuing to promote unhealthy products that are high in fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS) despite recent regulation that bans such practices.Read more
Are Dutch supermarkets committed to human rights?
3 Jul 2023
Dutch supermarkets lack widespread measures to respect human rights in supply chains, research project Superlist Social's inaugural report finds.Read more