Each year, food waste costs the Australian economy more than 36 billion dollars. This is equivalent to more than 7 million tonnes of food wasted across the consumption and supply chain. This was reported by Food Innovation Australia Limited (link to source paper).
As a result, it’s critical to reduce food waste. This way, higher amounts of food products will be available in the supply chain (including for the retailers and end consumers). Matching supply with demand will be easier as well. In addition, lower costs might be achieved as more supply comes into the chain. There are also other huge downstream effects such as reducing the use of fuel, water and land.
Drivers of food waste
Food waste occurs in the following:
- Primary production
- Processing and manufacturing
- Hospitality and food service
Often, the causes can be traced back to poor stock management, storage and handling practices. Delays in delivery also result in food waste because of spoilage or compromise in quality (where the recipient rejects the delivery).
Strategies for reducing food waste in the supply chain
To reduce food waste, the Australian Government (source: Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water) has already supported several initiatives such as:
- Supporting efficiency and innovation in agriculture
- Assessing food ordering, transport and storage practices
- Using packaging effectively and sustainably
- Encouraging partnerships between food and grocery retailers and charitable organisations
- Conducting household education and community initiatives
- Diverting food waste from the commercial food sector
- Investing in alternative treatment technology and infrastructure
- Finding incentives for alternatives to disposing of food waste in landfill
- Creating value from food waste (e.g. development and commercialisation of new bio-products)
- Standardising data to measure food waste and track its reduction
Businesses in the transport and logistics sector also play a huge role in reducing food waste. For example, here at Cooltrans, we always ensure prompt delivery of refrigerated and frozen food products. We also ensure tight temperature control to prevent food spoilage and maintain the quality of the food products during transport.
Reducing food waste requires the participation of all the players in the supply chain as well as the Government. This also requires the implementation of several strategies simultaneously. This way, food waste will have less economic and environmental impact.