Glass Half Full: Firms unveil an array of waste-cutting initiatives

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to the world of waste we go for our regular
trawl through the food sector’s good news stories. Nick Hughes reports.

First up in our latest roundup of noteworthy initiatives is a waste-reduction effort by AMT Fruit, which supplies Tesco with 11m boxes of fruit each year.

Operational waste has been slashed by 30% from 2015 to 2018 through a
number of innovative initiatives, one of which involves pet reptiles and waste-eating larvae!

AMT has been working with Tesco to relax product specifications to allow an increased volume of ‘scruffy’ fruit to make its way onto shelves, including a new giant line of over-sized fruit. The result is that Spanish citrus growers are now supplying an extra 10% of their crop to Tesco, while improvements in logistics have extended the shelf life of citrus fruits by a cumulative 40 million days.

Despite these efforts, the business still generates in excess of 2,000 tonnes of
waste each year from its UK operation. Enter the hungry grub, as Naomi Pendleton, head of technical and CSR at AMT Fruit explains: “Our citrus waste is too wet and acidic and full of rots and moulds, which makes it unpalatable for animal feed. We were having to send all our waste to AD (anaerobic digestion) plants. At the start of 2018 we were introduced to Joe Halstead from AgriGrub, who was looking for locally sourced viable waste products on which to grow his black soldier fly larvae.”

AgriGrub feeds waste vegetables and fruit to the larvae of black soldier flies and when they are an optimum size it sells the larvae – branded as Calci worms – to pet food distributors and retailers as a form of live feed for reptiles. A by-product of the process is called frass, which acts as a sustainable source of nutrients for plants, and a novel bio-repellent for crop protection.

More prosaic in comparison, but no less worthy, is Morrisons’ latest attempt to encourage customers to shop more sustainably. The retailer has launched a

‘We’ll Weigh What You Need’ service nationwide so that customers at its fresh food counters can buy the exact amount of food they require for a specific recipe in order to minimise food waste.

Customers are also being encouraged to bring their own containers in which to take away the ingredients, while information on recommended portion sizes will be written on counter labels for cuts of meat, fish, cheese, tapas and olives.

Moving seamlessly into the realm of foodservice, Costa Coffee is the latest
company to pilot Olio’s Food Waste Hero collection system. Unsold food is
advertised on the food sharing app, which is then shared with Olio’s network of users to ensure that no good food goes to waste.

The partnership with Costa is the latest addition to Cranswick’s Hull Food Save Project, the stakeholder collective that has saved over 40,000 food items from going to waste since being set up by the pork supplier, which employs more than 4,000 people in Hull.

Costa will be piloting the scheme with daily collections from its Anlaby Retail Park store, with a view to rolling the scheme out across other Costa Coffee stores in Hull.

And finally, sticking with the app theme, Sodexo catering teams at several English universities have saved more than 1,500 meals from going to waste after signing up to the Too Good To Go app.

The app allows customers to purchase unsold meals that would otherwise go to waste at a discounted price and is now being trialled by Sodexo at a number of university sites, including University College London, Coventry University, Birkbeck, the University of Nottingham, and City University.

Sodexo is not the first foodservice operator to partner with Too Good To Go. In April this year, Greene King began using the app to sell surplus carveries at a discount at the end of the day across all Greene King Pub and Carveries, and Farmhouse Inns.

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