Fighting Food Waste

The Lempert Report
October 10, 2014

According to the USDA, thirty-one percent of food available at supermarkets, restaurants, and in households goes uneaten and ends up in a landfill.

Why is there so much waste at the retail level? Most likely it’s that consumers tend to pick, and naturally so, the best looking produce or the freshest milk. So fruits and veggies that are a little less than perfect, or milk and bread that’s nearing its expiration date tends to get left behind and becomes increasingly difficult to sell.

The good news is that this problem is gaining the spotlight and as a result, increasingly retailers and supermarkets are trying to come up with ways to reduce the amount of unsold food.

Here in the U.S., the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association have formed the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.  By improving food labeling, ordering and inventory management, marketing of “ugly” produce, partnerships with food banks etc, supermarkets and retailers are doing their part to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste. 

And another, simple and immediate change retailers can make is what the Supermarket chain in France, Intermarché, did. They recently launched a new initiative to sell aesthetically-imperfect fruit and vegetables at a 30% discount. 

While some programs may take a little longer to implement, ideas like discounting certain foods can be simple and more immediate ways retailers can make a difference.