Industry comment

From food waste to new food

Why Stopping Food Waste Matters

Why Stopping Food Waste Matters 1024 569 R&G Fresh

28th April 2021 is Stop Food Waste Day – so we felt it timely to look at the serious (and growing!) problem of food waste and what we can all do about it.

Understanding food loss and waste

According to FareShare, the UK food industry alone wastes 3.6 million tonnes of food each year – 2 million of which is still edible at the time it’s thrown out. That’s enough for around 1.3 billion meals.

Even taken in isolation, those numbers are staggering. But when you consider that over 8 million people in the UK struggle to eat each year, and that food bank usage hit an all-time high during the global pandemic, there are clearly some big reasons why food waste prevention matters.

Why does food waste happen?

Food waste happens at every stage of the supply chain.

Fareshare’s numbers indicate that around 2 million tonnes of waste occurs at the farming stage alone, with food that’s spilled, spoiled stored incorrectly or packed poorly.

Processing and manufacturing is the next largest area for improvement, with up to 160,000 tonnes of lost food that’s fit for human consumption. Distribution channels can account for up to 120,000 tonnes, and unsold retail produce for around 110,000 tonnes of food that could have fed hungry mouths.

Humanitarian concerns aside, however, food waste also contributes heavily to climate change, with the World Wildlife Fund estimating 11% of all food system greenhouse gas emissions would be avoided by successfully tackling the problem of food wastage.

Solving the problem of food waste

Food waste pile

At R&G Fresh we make sure our suppliers work responsibly with the land to nurture the soil and the immediate environment rather than damaging it.

Our growers also pre-bunch 90% of the produce they pick before shipping it to us, meaning we minimise waste as much as possible.

That all happens because everyone in our business is committed to a sustainable way of working. We really do believe that these things start from a value system that favours sustainability.

Aside from a fundamental culture shift, however, there are certain things companies and individuals can do to solve the problem of food waste.

Corporate food waste

This post by Supply Chain Digital offers three things businesses can look at to address food waste. In short, they are:

1.     Improve visibility across the supply chain

For companies to reduce food waste, they first need to analyse the different stages of their process to get a real sense of how it’s working, and what needs to change.

2.     Make intelligent changes

There are many kinds of changes food companies could make depending on their findings at stage one. They include:

  • Improving product forecasting and ordering less inventory
  • Reviewing their distribution process and partners
  • Taking a keen eye to transportation choices and combining fleet journeys

3.     Increase efficiencies and work together better

If stage one above was ‘figure out what to do’ and stage two was ‘do it’, stage three is to continually iterate on and improve those processes – while recognising that communication and transparency with other businesses are critical to making it happen.

At R&G Fresh, we regularly visit our growers to make sure we’re aware of the challenges they’re facing, and are on-hand to offer our resources and support. We believe it’s the right way to operate, and the companies we work with think that way too.

Additionally, there is also the simple act of donating food rather than throwing it away. More than 100 UK supermarkets have pledged to reduce food waste by half by 2030, and each of them donating to the food banks we mentioned earlier will go a long way to addressing the problem’s human impact.

Personal food waste

Full kitchen food waste bin

So far, we’ve explained why stopping food waste matters and some of the steps companies can take towards solving the problem of food waste.

However, according to Friends of the Earth, there are many steps we can all take as individuals to stop food waste, each and every day.

They include:

How will you do your bit to prevent food waste?

Whether you’re reading this from a food industry perspective, or looking at things as an individual, we hope we’ve gotten across why reducing food waste is important.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit the Stop Food Waste Day website and join the virtual event on 28th April.

COVID-19 Shopping Behaviours

COVID-19 Shopping Behaviours 1024 569 R&G Fresh

When the lockdown was announced, consumers had to adapt to a different way of shopping and cooking. With that in mind, we take a look at the impact COVID-19 has had on shopping behaviours so far.

Lockdown began on the 23rd March 2020 and shopping habits changed rapidly as panic buying across the country saw customers switch from fresh, to dried, frozen or ambient.

Shopping days (and time of day) changed as people were furloughed and retailers had to enforce restrictions on how many people could shop safely in store at any given time. Consumers started to shop at the start of the week and earlier in the day, which became the ‘new normal’, rather than at weekends.

During this period, customers found their inner chef and more families ate together in the evenings. People started to be more creative, using online recipes and getting inspiration via their store cupboard ingredients.

Home baking became the new trend, along with batch cooking and scratch cooking becoming more popular. These are set to continue as lockdown eases.

With this inspiration of uses, preparation of products and not wasting any leftover food, fresh-cut herbs sales saw an increase. Some of which was driven by consumers enjoying low, slow cooking for BBQ’s, making marinades, pesto and other sauces.

Although beers, wines and spirits have seen significant uplift over this period there was a particular interest in low or non-alcoholic cocktails too. These, coupled with old faithful herbs such as thyme, rosemary and bay provided a depth of flavour. Plus, by using the more fragrant herbs such as basil and mint an amazing freshness can be added to any mocktail.

Online sales crashed for several retailers during the initial months of the pandemic and convenience stores became the go-to for customers needing to pick up their local groceries where shelves were well stocked. Larger retailers struggled with demand and as we saw in the news, shelves were empty. This did increase sales, giving local stores significant growth.

As the situation eased, with more people returning to work and online slot availability considerably improved across retailers, customers continue to do one big shop a week with a small top-up from local shops.

This is starting to slow down now that more fast food outlets are starting to open and the appeal to eat out after lockdown has seen a rise in footfall to restaurants.

Traditional shopping habits are slowly returning to normal. The change, however, is gradual with online and ‘click and collect’ services having the largest growth over these unprecedented times. This is set to continue as the ‘new normal’ preferred way to shop.

Want to speak to us about stocking our fresh-cut herbs and ingredients? Please contact us for more information.

HEAD OFFICE

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Tel: +44 (0)1483 474041
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E-mail: info@rgfresh.co.uk

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