Supermarkets in the Netherlands throw away less and less

22/01/2013 - While ten years ago around 3-4% of all fresh food products would end up as waste in supermarkets, nowadays this number has – partly due to better logistics – been reduced to 1-2%, claims Food Supply Chain Expert Toine Timmermans of Wageningen University.

According to Timmermans, who has been studying the subject for ten years, supermarkets have increased cooperation with suppliers and optimized the supply after initial years of great wastage due to the introduction of ready-made meals and pre-cut vegetables. Other measures that have helped, are the flexible baking of fresh bread during the day (when needed) and increased data collection, the latter allowing for better optimization of orders. Still, Timmermans notes, the current food waste amounts to an economic loss of nearly half a billion Euros.

Raw numbers on supermarket food waste were scarce because of the reluctance of supermarket chains in giving out exact figures. The only supermarket chain handing out data, Albert Heijn (AH), threw away 32 million kg of food in 2011, compared to 31 million kg food in 2008. Despite the slight rise, AH claims to taken several waste prevention measures, such as a “smart order system” and a 35% price reduction on products that are close to their sell-by-date. Several supermarkets said to have agreements with food banks.

Food waste is one of the prime waste streams where succesful waste prevention plans can be implemented. Many of the Pre-waste best practices exposed during the project, such as the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign in North London, address measures to prevent food waste.