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Retailers defend plateauing food waste arisings

food waste

Retailers have defended their efforts to cut food waste as independent statistics show there has been no reduction in recent years.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) quoted WRAP figures showing retailers produced around 200,000 tonnes of food waste each year from 2013 to 2015.

In a new report, the BRC says only 2.4% of all post-farm gate food is produced by retailers but acknowledges they have a shared responsibility for waste that occurs in their supply chain and in the home.

It suggests changes in the methodologies used for measuring food waste could have influenced results.

“While the BRC figure shows that retail food waste levels in 2015 were beginning to plateau, it is important to bear in mind the following:

  • The 2015 data does not capture recent retail initiatives which will significantly increase the amount of surplus food redistributed to those who need it
  • Measuring retail food waste has enabled retailers to identify their operational food waste hotspots, such as in-store bakeries, and to ensure that steps are taken to reduce food waste in these areas
  • Retail food waste figures can be sensitive to changes in operating models such as moving away from longer life products towards shorter life and fresh products”

The report mentions that Tesco was the first UK retailer to publish its own food waste data.

“One of the key benefits of publishing its data is that it allows Tesco to identify hotspots and take targeted action,” it says.

It also notes that Sainsbury has phased out multibuy promotions, which encourage consumers to buy more than they need.

Both the above schemes were mentioned by food waste campaigners in an Efra debate this month as measures they would like to see made mandatory.

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