Businesses in grocery supply chains could save £300 million a year by taking measures to reduce food waste, according to a government-backed report.
The report, from circular economy and resource charity, WRAP, estimates that the UK grocery supply chain produces 1.1 million tonnes of avoidable food waste each year, despite high efficiencies in most sectors.
The five manufacturing sectors producing the most waste are dairy products (200,000 tonnes); meat, poultry and fish (160,000 tonnes); ambient products (130,000 tonnes); fruit and vegetable processing (100,000 tonnes); and bakery, cake and cereals (90,000 tonnes).
According to the report, around 450,000 tonnes of food waste could be prevented at source in supply chains by 2025. This could save companies in those supply chains, primarily manufacturers, £300 million a year.
Supply chains could also increase food redistribution streams four-fold and boost the amount of waste being diverted to animal feed by 20 per cent.
The report helps to outline some of the root causes of waste arisings in manufacturing, such as process efficiency issues, contamination, packaging issues and handling errors, among others. It also offers potential solutions relevant for each sub-sector.
The analysis also found that there is often a poor understanding amongst companies about the types of surplus food within scope for redistribution and how to partner with redistribution organisations.
Dr Richard Swannell, director of WRAP, said the report provides “the clearest indication yet of where, and why, food surpluses and waste occur”.
“Through a combination of prevention, redistribution to people and diversion to animal feed, the grocery supply chain could, in the next 10 years, almost halve its avoidable food waste, from 2009 when we first started work in this area”, he said.
“This will significantly contribute to delivering the Courtauld 2025 food waste prevention target.”
The Courtauld Commitment, now in its fourth phase, aims to cut the waste and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the UK food and drink industry by at least 20 per cent against 2015 levels by 2025.