FareShare: Combating food waste at retail is a beneficial and 'necessary business cost'
Photo courtesy of FareShare

Despite produce industry efforts, 4.8 million tonnes of food goes to waste in UK

Produce Business report
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Food waste is a massive problem across the UK, even as retail chains and others do all they can to increase partnerships and give away items to local charities.

Balloon One, a supply chain specialist, noted during a recent study it conducted that nearly five million tonnes of food go to the trash each year. That is tragic given the millions of homeless people living who struggle to get healthy meals.

“The true cost of food waste in the supply chain really is shocking,” Craig Powell, Managing Director at Balloon One, said. “With so many families going without meals, the food we’re wasting is enough to feed everyone in the UK for over a month. Clearly there are steps we need to take as an industry to reduce our waste.”

They highlighted just how prevalent and discouraging the problem is in each sector. For example, they write:

  • “The manufacturing and processing sector produced the largest amount of food waste, 1.9 million tonnes, which is enough to feed everyone in the UK for 16 days.
  • The agriculture and primary production sector produces 1.6 million tonnes of food waste, which is enough to feed everyone in the UK for 13 days.
  • The hospitality and food service sector produces 1 million tonnes of food waste, which is enough to feed everyone in the UK for approximately 8 days.
  • In comparison to other sectors, retail produces the least amount of food waste, however still produces 0.3 million tonnes, which is enough to feed everyone in the UK for 3 days.”

Simply put, Powell and Balloon One said companies should do three things to change this troubling trend: Aside from tracking food waste, they said automation is key, along with better managing inventory.


“The sheer amount of food we’re throwing away is enormous, and it’s vital that every business does their bit if we want to make a difference, and each sector must work together to have the biggest impact,” he said. “The good news is that most of our food waste can easily be avoided and is largely due to an inefficient supply chain holding things up and wasting valuable time. And, when it comes to perishable items like food, time is of the essence at every stage.

“We’re lucky enough to have innovative technology right at our fingertips, and this tech can drastically change our processes for the better. By investing in WMS and automated systems, warehouses, transport management companies, retailers, and hospitality venues can all collaborate and reduce lead times. That means food can get from farm to fork much more quickly.”

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