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Three quarters of procurement execs not yet tracking food waste

Sodexo Leanpath food waste system

New research from Sodexo suggests the link between food waste and carbon emissions is still not understood, prompting it to argue that “radical, rapid change” is needed in the foodservice sector to reduce carbon emissions.

A study commissioned by the catering and facilities management business found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of senior decision makers in supply chain and food procurement were currently not tracking the amount of food their organisation wastes.

Sodexo said the findings, which included executives from some of the largest private and public sector organisations, show that while the connection between day-to-day activities such as air travel and carbon emissions is well understood, food waste has yet to sufficiently cut through.

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It notes that WRAP’s data suggests total food waste in the UK amounts to 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and the government planning to consult on the potential of mandating food waste reporting.

Sodexo, which has pledged to cut its own food waste by 50% by 2025 – using WasteWatch technology powered by LeanPath – found that just 26% of food procurement professionals prioritise food waste in achieving carbon reduction goals.

More encouragingly though, the majority (93%) of respondents said they are considering changing their organisation’s procurement criteria to reduce food waste in the next 12 months, with almost the same proportion saying they will be tracking food waste by 2025 (94%).

The study’s findings, however, clearly show that organisations are looking for outside assistance to help them achieve the necessary cuts in food waste, with almost two-thirds (64%) suggesting direction from government needs to be made clearer through stronger policy and regulation.

A similar proportion (62%) said government advice on how to use technology would be helpful while 63% also believe carbon labelling on meals would instigate behavioural change.

Sean Haley, chairman of Sodexo UK and Ireland, commented: “Food waste is a problem long before consumers scrape leftovers off their plate. There is currently wastage at every stage of the food system from farm to fork – this requires urgent intervention.

“We feel strongly that every organisation that procures food at volume should commit to, and crucially action, a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 at the latest in line with the UN’s SDGs – although our own target is five years earlier than that.

“The first step towards cutting food waste is tracking and monitoring it – we are seeing significant results from this approach. While tackling food waste alone is not the silver bullet, it is a key component of our net zero ambition, enabling us to live up to our broader purpose of continuing to support and improve the communities in which we live, work and serve.”

A study published by the United Nations study found that if food waste was a country then it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the US.

But food procurement and supply chain heads face enormous challenges, one of which being the recent transition to hybrid working.

Over half (60%) said hybrid work environments make it difficult for businesses to plan how many diners they’ll have each day.

The same proportion (60%) also said using food that might otherwise have been wasted (e.g. vegetable peelings) on menus has an image problem for consumers – but it’s one they want to change.

Just 13% of survey respondents said their employees are aware that minimising food waste can help their organisation to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Menu management and supplier sourcing form part of Sodexo’s carbon reduction plan

Tags : Contract cateringfood wasteSodexo
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

1 Comment

  1. Every aspect needs to be joined as one to make this whole carbon emissions reduction work, only then the “radical, rapid change” can be made to the foodservice sector to reduce carbon emissions.

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