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://cdn.chr-hansen.com/_/media/files/chrhansen/home/sustainability/our-fight-against-food-waste/impact-study-on-food-waste.pdf?rev=4bd1f56a00f649088d10e20490d94721&hash=7E612ADFF7A77BF4129ECA8FFBB9ED2F
Learn more about consumers' attitudes to a sustainable food consumption and food waste.
A new yogurt product that claims to fight food waste: what do consumers think?
How would consumers react to a test concept that claims to fight food waste? Well, the concept we showed to consumers indicated a willingness to make a trial purchase if consumers could find the product where they normally shop for groceries.
A new normal: understanding attitudes towards food waste just after COVID-19 lockdowns
We have investigated how COVID-19 has shaped consumer attitudes towards food waste by conducting surveys in two countries affected by the virus – China and Germany. Fighting food waste is high on the agenda in both countries. This common effort is noteworthy: while these two countries differ in many ways, they are similar with regards to the shared intention of fighting food waste among their consumers.
Extending the shelf life of yogurt can help consumers to reduce food waste
Too short shelf life is the key driver of food waste and makes consumers look for longer shelf life at the point of purchase. Check out our new insights in this report.
Date labeling can lead to food waste
As date labeling is a key cause of much wasted food it is crucial to understand consumer attitudes towards yogurt with longer shelf life. Recent insights indicate promising opportunities for extending shelf life and communicating about it to support consumers’ fight against food waste.
Consumers demand sustainable food consumption
Find out how the growing demand for sustainable consumption challenges food producers’ ability to fight food waste and what opportunities lie ahead for those committing to sustainability.