The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates one-third of human food production is lost or wasted globally.

Waste occurs in all parts of the food chain – from post-harvest processing all the way through the supply chain to stores and consumers.

While retailers have made great progress in reducing the amount of food wasted in stores and distribution networks, more still needs to be done. For example, more careful decisions must be made regarding selection of products and implementation of a disciplined best-before date policy could lead to significant reductions in waste, according to an Oliver Wyman survey.

UK retailer Tesco is an example of a company seriously trying to cut down food waste. The company recently launched an innovative, online ‘food waste hotline’, to help make it easier for suppliers and growers to pinpoint ongoing food waste hotspots. This helps the retailer to tackle food waste more efficiently.

In London, five leading grocery retailers and their supply chains took part in a Performance Improvement Programme of the charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) recently. The initiative and results showed how collaboration could provide commercial benefits while putting a stop to waste, and that waste reduction needs the different parts of the supply chain to work together. Overall, the programme saved about 1400 tonnes of food from becoming waste.

In Australia, following an RMIT University research paper on food waste commissioned by CHEP Australia, it showed that packaging is crucial to minimising food waste within the supply chain. In transit, in storage, at the point of sale and before consumption, packaging protects fresh produce and processed food in transit. Better packaging helps deliver a broad range of functions including reducing food waste.

Kristina Liljestrand, an expert in sustainable food logistics at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, told Olive Oil Times, “By tweaking the logistics systems, we can ensure that the food maintains good quality and lasts as long as possible when it reaches the store.”

The weekly newsletter also revealed that a recent research paper suggested four steps companies could take to ensure waste reduction projects are driving the highest value. Firstly, they suggest that stakeholders in the food supply chain must first visualise at which point of the chain waste and spoilage occurs most. Secondly, try to make logistics more efficient. Thirdly, change performance priorities to prioritise waste reduction. Lastly, employ emergency solutions to reduce waste, such as lowering prices of near-spoiled products at the retail level.

Source: “Reducing the Environmental Impact of Food Products Logistics Systems” by Kristina Liljestrand, an expert in sustainable food logistics and researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden

Marc Zornes, founder of Winnow, according to New York-based Food + Tech Connect. “New technologies are giving the industry a fresh look at how to reduce waste.” When it comes to reducing food waste, Zornes stressed that “every calorie counts”. He added that safeguarding a sustainable food chain supply should be a priority as a “more efficient, robust food supply chain” is beneficial to everyone.

On a daily basis, roughly a third of all food grown globally is wasted at some point between farm and fork. This translates into over $1 trillion in waste or over 1% of global output.