The majority of food procurement professionals are not targeting food waste reduction as part of their climate goals after new research found most see no link between waste and carbon emissions.
The study of 282 people in senior food supply chain and procurement roles was commissioned by Sodexo as part of its new Appetite for Action campaign. Just 26% of those surveyed are prioritising food waste as a means to achieve carbon reduction goals, while just 13% believe their organisation’s employees are aware that minimising food waste can help their company achieve net zero carbon emissions.
Recent research by WRAP found that emissions associated with UK food waste are 36MtCO2, equivalent to 23% of total food system emissions. However, nearly three-quarters (74%) 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 Sodexo’s study. This is despite the government planning to consult on the potential for mandating food waste reporting.
The study suggests businesses are looking to government for leadership on food waste. Almost two-thirds (64%) suggest direction from government needs to be made clearer through stronger policy and regulation; 62% say government advice on how to use technology would be helpful; while 63% believe carbon labelling on meals would inspire behavioural change.
The majority (93%) of respondents 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%).
Sodexo UK & Ireland chairman Sean Haley called for every organisation that procures food at volume to commit to and act on a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030 at the latest in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDG 12.3).
Sodexo has pledged to cut its own food waste by 50% by 2025. It said the deployment of its WasteWatch technology powered by Leanpath at 229 sites across the UK had prevented over 280 tonnes of food waste during the past 12 months, the equivalent of 500,000 meals.
"The first step towards cutting food waste is tracking and monitoring it – we are seeing significant results from this approach,” said Haley. “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.”