Nearly three-quarters of senior decision makers in the supply chain and in food procurement are currently not tracking the amount of food their organisation wastes, according to new research shared with City A.M. today.
In fact, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents told food facilities management company Sodexo in survey that direction from government on how industry should reduce food waste needs to be made clearer through stronger policy and regulation as the £120bn sector seeks to reduce its environmental impact.
Just 26 per cent of food procurement professionals prioritise food waste as a means to achieving carbon reduction goals, while half as many (13 per cent) believe their organisation’s employees are aware that minimising food waste can help their company achieve net zero carbon emissions
Businesses in the food service sector will not achieve carbon net zero goals without urgently turning their attention to the issue of food waste. This is the stark warning emerging today from the French firm, which launched a ‘Appetite for Action’ campaign last week.
Lack of understanding
The findings demonstrate 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, argues Sean Haley, Chairman at Sodexo UK & Ireland.
Pointing out that his company has pledged to cut its own food waste by 50 per cent by 2025, Haley mentioned that just 26 per cent of food procurement professionals prioritise food waste in achieving carbon reduction goals.
“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,” he said.
Haley told City A.M. today: “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.”
More encouragingly though, the majority (93 per cent) 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 per cent).
Third largest greenhouse gas emitter
A recent United Nations study suggested 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 per cent) said hybrid work environments make it difficult for businesses to plan how many diners they’ll have each day. The same proportion (60 per cent) 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.