Retail food wastage : a case study approach to quantities and causes

Abstract: Food wastage is a problem along the entire food supply chain and gives rise to great financial losses and waste of natural resources. The retail stage of the supply chain contributes significant masses of waste. In order to introduce efficient waste reduction measures, the wastage problem must first be properly described. Causes of wastage need to be identified before potential measures can be designed, tested and evaluated. This thesis quantifies retail food wastage and analyse its causes with the aim of providing information that can be used to suggest potential waste reduction measures. Food wastage was quantified in six supermarkets in the Uppsala-Stockholm region of Sweden. Data were recorded during 2010 and 2011 by the retail company in a daily waste recording procedure. In addition, suppliers contributed data on deliveries and rejections. The main meat and deli supplier also contributed data on wholesale pack size and shelf-life, which allowed the relationship between these and their effect on waste to be analysed. The waste of the fresh fruit and vegetables department was dominated by the pre-store waste caused by rejections, 3.0%, whereas the in-store waste was 1.3% consisting of 1.0% recorded waste and 0.3% unrecorded waste in relation to mass delivered. Fresh fruit and vegetables waste was mainly attributable to a few products, with the eight most wasted product types contributing 67% of waste within the department. The most wasted product was tomatoes, with 106 tons of waste during the two-year test period for the six stores, followed by bananas with 90 tons and lettuce with 82 tons. Supermarket cheese, dairy, deli and meat departments all had less wasted mass and smaller percentage waste than the fruit and vegetables department. The top eight most wasted products within each of these departments contributed between 22% and 39% of the mass. Organic products were found to cause higher percentage waste than conventional products. One systematic reason for this was the lower mass sold per article for organic products. For these products, increased shelf-life and decreased minimum order size, were found to be as effective a measure for waste reduction as increased turnover.

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