Combatting food waste

Combatting food waste

How one retailer rose to the challenge

Every year, in developing countries, consumers waste food. Whether this is due to buying too much, cooking too much, or food expiring before we can use it, this all adds up. In total, the world's more prosperous countries waste more than 220 million tonnes of food each year and, according to the united nations' Global and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), about one third of global production is lost or wasted. We can all help prevent food waste, so Hearts & Wallets looks at how we can each make a difference.

Combatting food waste

Food waste is a global problem. Consumers are now wasting more food than ever before, with millions of tonnes of food going to landfills each year and huge losses in food production. With a cult of perfection, the developed world can be its own worst enemy when it comes to food waste. With high-quality standards that over-emphasize appearance rather than functionality, consumers are encouraged to buy more food than they need and have become complacent about wasting some of it due to low prices. 

The effect on our future

Food waste, or loss, does have an impact on climate change. Food production uses resources: water, fertilizers, pesticides, energy, and labor, all to produce edible items, of which 30-40% will be wasted. All of these production elements produce greenhouse gases and consequently have an impact on climate change. Also, in developing countries, food losses during harvest and storage cause a decline in the income of small farmers. Food losses also subsequently lead to higher prices in the supermarkets, making fresh food more of an investment for poorer families. 

The tool to reduce food waste: re-use, store, save

It may sound simple, but storing our food correctly, whether it be cooked or raw, will enable us all to make our weekly shop last longer and reduce food waste. Having a good range of storage containers, which are suitable for use in the freezer, microwave, and fridge, is a foolproof way to start on the road to reducing food waste.

Royal VKB - storage boxes

Royal VKB, the newest brand in the BrandLoyalty portfolio, has produced a range of not only functional but well-designed storage solutions. The range has been optimized to keep food fresher, for longer. The introduction of a vacuum pump, for example, further prolongs the life of our stored food. Each item is suitable for use in the fridge, freezer, and microwave. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about future product lines from Royal VKB.

When stored correctly, all of our fresh food can last longer. Here is a guide to where you should store your fruit & veggies to get the most from them. 

In the fridge
Broccoli – keeps for 1 week 
Mushrooms– keep up to 1 week
Apples  – keep up to 2 weeks 
Ripe Avocados – keep up to 3 days

On the work surface 
Tomatoes – keep up to 1 week 
Grapefruit – keep up to 3 weeks 
Unripe avocados – keep up to 3 days

In the pantry (or a cool, dark place)
Garlic – keeps up to 2 months
Potatoes – keep up to 3 weeks
Onions – keep up to 2 months

Shoppers waste less food in the Netherlands

In 2016 Albert Heijn was presented with a shocking fact: a quarter of all food in Dutch households is wasted. The retailer wanted to make a difference, and so set out to help customers reduce their food waste. Over six weeks in August and September, customers of Albert Heijn collected stamps for Royal VKB food storage boxes. Albert Heijn wanted to not only give customers the tools to make a difference but also educate them too. The loyalty programme was accompanied by strong online and offline activation including educational videos, refrigerator stickers, articles in Albert Heijn’s magazine Allerhande and TV advertising.

Over 6 weeks, across 900 stores, more than half of all Dutch households collected Royal VKB storage boxes, meaning the Netherlands made a big contribution to reducing food waste. 

Hearts & Wallets is the official magazine of BrandLoyalty. It is a magazine for people working at the highest levels of the food retail industry. The goal of Hearts & Wallets is to come up with real insights on - and answers to - current issues, while offering its own individual interpretation as food for thought.

First published in February 2017.

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