CASE STUDY EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT
Establishing best practice guidelines for food loss and waste prevention in food manufacturing and retail
3Keel developed best practice guidelines for food loss and waste (FLW) prevention in Greece and Turkey
F ood loss and waste is a significant global challenge for business, policymakers and civil society. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, approximately one-third of all of the food produced in the world by weight in 2009 was lost or wasted, equating to approximately 1.3-1.6 billion tonnes of food with a value of €1.1 trillion. This is the equivalent of six garbage trucks of edible food lost or wasted every second. The magnitude of the issue is so significant that if global FLW were classed as a country, it would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter worldwide, only sitting behind China and the USA.
3Keel was commissioned by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to identify policies, legal and regulatory actions as well as business practices that would have a positive impact on food loss and waste prevention in food value chains in the Bank’s countries of operation.
The project was conducted in two pilot countries: Turkey and Greece. Our research identified that there are considerable environmental and business opportunities from preventing food loss and waste in these countries. It is estimated that both Turkey and Greece’s combined production and disposal of over 20m tonnes of food waste has a carbon footprint of c.37 mtCO2e. This is equivalent to 7.5% and 5% of the countries GHG emissions, respectively. It was also estimated that there is more than a combined €4.5bn worth of avoidable FLW in retail and manufacturing each year in the countries.
Magnitude of FLW in the selected pilot countries
The project outputs – including two public-facing Food Loss and Waste Guidelines for Greece and Turkey – were developed through desk-based research, expert interviews and in-country missions to speak with key policy, business and NGO stakeholders. These guidelines identified general good practices – but also specific recommendations for the countries. For example, in Turkey five priority areas for FLW reduction were identified. These are most likely to deliver FLW reduction in the food retail sector, and associated financial and climate change mitigation benefits:
- Improving cold chain and post harvest practices: A reliable and efficient cold chain is essential for reducing food losses and waste. Globally, approximately 20% of foods are lost due to poor cold chain infrastructure and practices.
- Data-led supply chain & retail management: Greater value chain collaboration and the use of data-led approaches to reducing food loss and waste in stores, depots and factories offer potentially significant economic savings for food businesses who invest in these technologies.
- Product labelling and consumer awareness: Product shelf-life and storage advice has a significant impact on food waste in the home and store. Raising awareness and ensuring best practice is adopted can help ensure no edible food is thrown away unnecessarily.
- Food surplus and by-product valorisation: Valorisation is a critical element of the food circular economy. Creation of new products from industry by-products and surplus food, ranging from animal feed to high value food industry compounds.
- Surplus food redistribution & selling: When some food surpluses do inevitably occur in food chain businesses, systems can be put in place to enable these to be resold or sent to charities (e.g. food banks). This ensures the human consumption of produced food is maximised.
Overall the research found that there is a critical role for retailers in ensuring they act as a positive force on food loss and waste reduction in value chains. This is through adopting good practice in a number of areas, especially: planning, forecasting, product development and supplier communications and standard-setting.
If global FLW were classed as a country, it would be the third-largest GHG emitter worldwide…