Tackling global food waste helps to fight climate change (wasted food alone represents an estimated 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions1), lightens our environmental impact and preserves natural resources for future generations. But addressing the issue of food waste isn’t only helpful at the macro level: it can also help individual corporations, producers and households save money and improve margins by ensuring that what leaves the farm makes it to the table.
The benefits of fighting food waste is underestimated by food companies
The inefficiency of food waste may appear self-evident, leading us to wonder why many businesses do not do more to reduce their role in the problem. One potential reason for this is that the costs of food loss and waste are hard to quantify because they tend to be hidden within operational budgets, spread out along the supply chain between different actors, or simply accepted as the cost of doing business. Another potential reason that waste is so entrenched in our global food system is that addressing it effectively often requires upfront, long-term investments that may require time before yielding results.
While corporations may be reluctant to spend money to address this problem, studies show the investments are worthwhile: an analysis of 700 food companies in 17 countries found that 99% of sites had a positive return on their investments to stem food loss and waste, with half seeing savings of more than $14 for every dollar spent2. With this kind of financial potential there really is no reason to hesitate moving forward with concrete actions.
Food cultures support the fight against food waste across the value chain
Food cultures with bioprotective effects fight the growth of contaminants and delay spoilage, resulting in a fresher product that can be enjoyed for longer. These food cultures can support a longer shelf life without the use of artificial ingredients and this can lead to reduced food waste across the value chain. The good question is how much food waste that could be avoided using these food cultures?
An impact study3 was developed to test the effect of adding food cultures with bioprotective effect to all yogurt in Europe. The study which was reviewed by experts from University of Wageningen and WRAP UK found that in Europe alone, yogurt waste could be reduced by 30%, which would mean 520,000 fewer tons of CO₂ emissions, as well.
Fighting food waste is a strategic focus area for Chr. Hansen
At Chr. Hansen, fighting food waste is a fundamental component of our sustainability objectives and working to develop food cultures that can help to fight food waste is a major area of strategic focus for us. Because much of our work involves collaboration with the dairy industry, we have focused our sustainability objectives within this area and are committed to reducing yogurt waste by two million tons by 2025. The dairy industry is characterized by high turnover, fragile supply chains and relatively short shelf lives, making it a significant contributor to global food waste and losses. Up to 17% of all yogurt is wasted every year in the European Union, amounting to 1.5 million tons of yogurt thrown away each year.3
The challenges ahead of us are significant, but with some creativity and inspiration from the natural world, they represent an exciting opportunity to innovate and challenge the status quo. We believe we are up to the task and look forward to doing our part to build a food system that can sustain itself and feed us all.
1 World Resources Institute, 2011/2012
2 World Resources Institute, 2019 (https://wriorg.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/reducing-food-loss-waste-global-action-agenda_0.pdf)
3 Qbis, 2016 (https://www.chr-hansen.com/_/media/files/chrhansen/home/sustainability/our-fight-against-food-waste/impact-study-on-food-waste.pdf)