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Food Waste

Food Waste

What is it and why does it matter?

Reducing waste at all stages of the food value chain, including packaging waste, such as cardboard and plastic and choosing more sustainable packaging materials. (See also Circular and Bio Economy)

Similar to sustainable packaging, this is something consumers are very much focused on as they try to become that bit more sustainable. Clear opportunity for brands to communicate how they can help consumers with food waste, and how they tackle food waste in the supply chain. 


Of consumers say they have made some effort to reduce food waste in last 12 months ​


Moving waste reduction to Circular thinking

Lidl Ireland & Northern Ireland to become the first large nationwide supermarket to establish a circular economy strategy, helping to 'fuel its logistics chain using food waste from its 209 stores on the island‘. Lidl have also committed to the reduction of food waste of 30% in supply chain by 2025 (IGD, 2021). 

Insights from 

Agenda Setters

Not a key focus for thought leaders, however, amongst sustainability leads it is referenced alongside packaging and general waste / reduction strategies driven by a mix of factors from cost, consumer demand & regulation

“waste management and circular economy I mean, recycling your waste and reducing the volume of waste which are not recycled is clearly something that should be priority” 

The key themes are:

  • Cost reduction and meeting regulatory standards
  • Working with charity food banks (Food Cloud)
  • Circular economy thinking …how can waste be reused 


Food waste is a critical topic for buyers, with almost 9 in 10 saying that it is important for the business to tackle food waste/loss - this spikes for food service and retail operators. For any suppliers into foodservice and retail, explaining how you’re tackling food waste will be important. It is equally important when choosing a supplier, meaning they’ll be putting pressure on suppliers to limit food waste through their production processes. 


For consumers it is as important if not more important – ranking highly as an influence of grocery decisions. During Covid we saw a move towards frozen as more consumers tried to reduce their food waste, with just under 9 in 10 globally saying they have made an effort to cut back. Like with packaging, this is a tangible and understandable dimension of sustainability for consumers.  It is also a topic that retailers and other parts of the supply chain are prioritising so it will remain an important issue and an area which products and brands can leverage to stand out with consumers. 

It doesn’t stand out in any particular category, as there may be a lack of understanding as to how food waste in the supply chain relates to what they buy. This means there’s a great opportunity to stand out if a brand can communicate what it’s doing well around food waste, and how it can reduce food waste in the home, e.g., smaller formats.

80%​ of buyers say

when choosing a supplier, it’s important for them to try to reduce or eliminate food waste
Insights & Implications
Insights & Implications

Review the headline insights from the Global Food Sustainability Outlook research.

Review the Insights & Implications