Initiatives on prevention of food waste in the retail and wholesale trades

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This project was initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers and its waste prevention group. The background to the project is that waste prevention is the highest priority in the waste hierarchy according to the EU Waste Directive. One other reason is the heavily increasing discussions in society on food waste in general. The project has been focusing on amounts of food waste, causes for food waste generation and initiatives to reduce the amounts of food waste from the retail and wholesale sector. Furthermore it gives some recommendations to measures that could be taken to change the present situation.



Waste generation — why do waste arises

Why does food waste arises? There are of course a number of reasons for this – being more or less the same irrespective of which country that is surveyed. The most common reason is that the food is “un-saleable” either the food is out-dated or it is not looking fresh enough to sell. However, in that context it is a crucial question is why the food has turned “un—saleable” (for example customers usually pick the products with the longest “best before dates” and avoid those with short “best before date” or the apple looking the most fresh). All known reasons are all more or less linked to customer’s behaviour or to the shop-owner’s priority to sell, so there is a delicate balance between selling and preventing food loss (and minimising food loss is not always the optimum for the shop owner). The reasons also cause food waste in different parts of the value chain (in the retail and wholesale sector, in the producer step and in the households). The most important reasons for the different parts of the value chain are described below


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