Resource Use

Global consumer goods companies unite to tackle food waste

The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF)’s Food Waste Coalition of Action has released its inaugural baseline report, outlining operational food surplus and waste aggregated data from some of the world’s leading retailers and manufacturers.

Food wasteThe CGF brings together over 400 senior leaders from retailers and manufacturers from across 70 countries in efforts to increase efficiency and impose positive change across the industry. Through its Food Waste Coalition of Action, it unites 21 of the globe’s largest consumer goods retailers and manufacturers with the goal of reducing food waste and the associated stresses on the environment.

The report – compiled by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and commissioned by the Coalition – marks an important milestone in the industry’s journey towards transparency and action on food waste.

The report gathers quantitative data – including the tonnage of food waste generated by retailers and manufacturers, the methods used for treating and disposal of waste, and the quantity of food redistributed for human or animal consumption – to form the baseline used to track progress in future years.

Based on data from the year 2021, the total food waste from the cohort studied in the report was 2.12 million tonnes, 929,000 of which arose from retailers with the remainder from manufacturers.

The report marks a critical component of the Coalition’s ambition to halve food waste in their business by the year 2030 – aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 – to reduce the 1.3 billion tonnes of produced food that is not consumed each year.

Qualitative data is also looked at in the report, offering an overview of the measures businesses are implementing to establish waste reduction targets, collaborate with suppliers, and assist customers in minimising waste.

Ken Murphy, Group Chief Executive at Tesco, commented: “Our Coalition is working hard to create solutions to the food waste and loss challenges in our own operations, and our supply chains both upstream and downstream.

“We welcome the findings of this report, as it represents our commitment to transparency going forwards. We now want to see solid progression along our pathway towards halving food waste, and with a baseline, we can now track our collective achievements. We encourage other companies to lean into the challenges, and join us on our journey.”

Harriet Lamb, CEO of WRAP added: “Public reporting on food loss and waste is widely recognised as a trigger for rapid and effective action. This baseline report represents a line in the sand for our Coalition, and we are confident that it will help guide our 2030 roadmap to ensure we fully understand the challenges and opportunities to end food waste.”

“We will not tackle climate change if we don’t fix our broken food system and not least food waste. Were it a country, food waste would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the USA. So it’s incredibly important that the Food Waste Coalition of Action has set a baseline for the businesses involved, and critical that these major food companies work collaboratively towards its goals.

“Together we can halve the amount that goes to waste each year and make our food systems a more equitable model that feeds people, not bins.”

Efforts to reduce food waste

Alongside the new baseline report, The Food Waste Coalition has already been working on tackling the challenge of food waste through several key projects:

  • The 10x20x30 Initiative: targeting ten of the world’s largest food retailers to follow the ‘Target-Measure-Act’ approach, whilst engaging 20 of the priority suppliers to do the same in efforts to halve food waste by 2030.
  • Engagement on upstream losses: addressing food loss at the post-harvest level by engaging with suppliers on collaborative food loss prevention programmes.
  • #TooGoodToWaste consumer engagement campaign: supporting food industry members to raise awareness and support consumers in reducing household food waste.

Speaking on the need to tackle global food waste, Max Kouene, President and CEO of McCain Foods said: “The scale of the problem of food loss and waste to our society, economy and planet can be difficult to comprehend. Having this new Coalition baseline by which to measure our progress on food loss and waste each year will not only help us understand just how much work remains to be done but will help set a clear pathway forwards for action.

“Since the creation of our Coalition in 2020, we have learned how to target, measure, and act, and we now feel able to help other manufacturers and retailers across the industry do the same.”

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