EU companies make progress on goal to halve food waste by 2020

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

EU companies make progress on goal to halve food waste by 2020

Related tags: Food waste, European union

The European food industry has made progress toward cutting food waste, with nearly two-thirds including wastage in their sustainability strategy, according to a new report from trade organisation FoodDrinkEurope.

The report follows up on an industry pledge made in June last year​ to halve food waste by 2020, titled ‘Every Crumb Counts’, and a toolkit for industry to help with food waste reduction.

Currently, about a third of food is lost or wasted globally each year, occurring at the consumer and retailer level, well as at the production level, in the form of on-farm and in-storage losses.

The report included responses from 29 companies in 22 EU countries, representing more than €26bn in turnover. It found that more than 80% were working to identify causes of food wastage and optimise processes; 80% had taken initiatives to prevent waste in their factories; and more than 70% were working with those in their supply chains to prevent wastage beyond their own processes.

This report is the proof that food and drink companies in Europe and their associations understand the need to lead by example and are working to reduce food wastage in their operations, across supply chains and through innovative partnerships​,” FoodDrinkEurope’s director general Mella Frewen said in a statement.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the report “highlights the importance of both food waste quantification and collaboration between stakeholders in the supply chain”.

“We are delighted to see that 60% of survey respondents include food waste in their sustainability strategy and we hope this report will inspire others to take further and more comprehensive action,” ​ said UNEP and FAO in a joint statement.

However, there are still roadblocks for some companies when it comes to cutting waste. A third of respondents said they would like more guidance on liability when donating food, and nearly three-quarters (73%) said they would like to see more case studies and sharing of best practice within the food industry.

In the EU, there is no common definition of food wastage, and methodologies for quantifying wastage vary. Every Crumb Counts signatories pledged at the time to work toward a common approach across the food supply chain. As well as FoodDrinkEurope, other signatories were EUROPEN, which represents the packaging sector; the European Federation of Foodbanks; and the Sustainable Restaurant Association.  

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1 comment

Food Waste Reduction

Posted by Rod Averbuch,

The large amount of fresh food waste is a lose-lose situation for the environment, the struggling families in today’s tough economy and for the food retailers. There is no single cure, or silver bullet for food waste reduction therefore, we should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of fresh perishables close to their expiration on supermarket shelves, combined with the consumer “Last In First Out” shopping behavior, might be the weakest link of the fresh food supply chain.
The new open GS1 DataBar standard enables applications that encourage efficient consumer shopping by offering him automatic and dynamic purchasing incentives for fresh perishables approaching their expiration dates before they end up in a landfill.
The “End Grocery Waste” App, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.

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