Food production has a significant impact on the environment, it accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of fresh-water use. It’s essential for your business to understand its responsibility in tackling this issue.

One-third of all food produced is wasted, causing 6% of global emissions, highlights the urgent need to tackle this problem.

In the UK, 9.5 million tonnes of food are thrown away, with 70% happening in households, and 1.5m tonnes going to waste in manufacturing, which directly hits your bottom line.

However, these challenges also offer opportunities for the food sector to take the lead in reducing waste, increasing profitability, meeting customer expectations and regulatory requirements.

Reducing food waste is a triple win for businesses, these opportunities include:

Climate Solutions:

Halving food waste by 2050 has been shown to be the best way to cut emissions significantly and tackle climate change, this is a major priority for the industry.

Beyond financial returns, waste reduction plays a crucial role in reducing resource use and emissions link to issues such as deforestation and land-use change. This can result in a company purchasing fewer raw materials, which is a great benefit for companies that want to reduce their Scope 3 emissions.

Profitability Gains:

Investing in waste reduction isn’t just environmentally responsible; it pays financially. Every £1 invested in reducing food waste returns an average of £14, showcasing the potential for significant profitability gains.

Addressing Food Insecurity:

Waste reduction is not only an environmental issue but also a social one. The industry can reduce food waste, be sending at risk food to surplus redistribution which can help to alleviate food insecurity, foster community engagement, and reinforce corporate social responsibility.

How to Identify and Reduce Waste:

Holistic Measurement and Reporting:

Food waste is often measured and reported based on disposal route data. Bridging the gap between reporting and understanding the root causes is essential for effective reduction strategies.

Analysing Commercial and Operational Processes:

Commercial and operational processes can indirectly contribute to food waste. A thorough examination of these processes is necessary to identify and address the underlying issues.

Data-Driven Insights:

Utilising management data is instrumental in pinpointing waste hot spots, identifying trends, and uncovering opportunities for improvement.

Hands-On Approach:

Walking the production line and engaging in discussions with colleagues provides invaluable insights into the daily operations, helping to identify and quantify reduction opportunities.

Leveraging Existing Data Sources:

Various existing data sources, such as material write-off reports, stock reconciliation reports, production data, and more, can be tapped into to identify waste and the collaborative teams needed to address it.

The challenges posed by food and agriculture’s environmental impact and waste generation are formidable, but within these challenges lie opportunities for transformation. By committing to ambitious climate solutions, capitalising on profitability gains, and adopting data-driven waste reduction strategies, the food sector can pave the way towards a sustainable and resilient future. The time to act is now, and the benefits extend beyond the balance sheet, encompassing a healthier planet, thriving communities, and a robust industry leading by example.