A recent report revealed that retail sector alone accounts for 13 percent of 931 million tonnes of food waste that was generated in the world in 2019. The causes of food waste at this stage of food supply chain often include fluctuations in seasonal supply of fresh food, changes in consumer demand, inappropriate sizes or packaging, visual defects or damage to a food item or the packaging, esthetical considerations for fresh produce or lack of consumer understanding concerning the date markings to name a few.
Positioned in the middle of food supply chains, retailers have considerable market power to affect change and curb food waste. Indeed, by collaborating with food business operators, retail actors can influence upstream and downstream handling of food, and in so doing contribute to reducing food waste along supply chains. Food retail businesses are also in direct reach with consumers and so can empower them to make sustainable food-related choices.
Recognising the pivotal role that the sector has to play in reducing food waste, Turkish food retailer Migros Ticaret A.Ş., under the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey and with the support of FAO, prepared a guide to reducing food waste in retail.
At the event to launch of the guidelines, Ayşe Ayşin Işıkgece, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry expressed her gratitude to FAO and all the partners of the “Save Your Food” movement: “We have gained vast support and continue receiving it from various stakeholders from all sectors. Together, we developed five guiding documents empowering the actors along food value chains to effectively address food waste at every stage. In this regard, I am pleased to present the new edition to this series of tools – the guidelines for reducing food waste in retail sector today. I hope that all relevant parties would benefit from it.”
The Document comprises an array of practical industry-specific guidance on prevention, recovery, and recycling solutions, including practices targeted to cooperation with suppliers, improvement of business operations and marketing strategies, and raising consumer awareness.
Viorel Gutu, Subregional Coordinator for FAO in Central Asia and FAO Representative in Turkey, highlight the role of retailers in tackling the issue of food loss and waste. Gutu noted that “the guidelines will be an important tool, helping the industry identify, prioritize, and accelerate waste reduction activities and thereby support the implementation of the National Action Plan for the Prevention and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste and contribute to achieving SDG Target 12.3”.
While the Guidelines target food retailers, the outlined actions have the potential to impact the entire ecosystem and mobilise other actors in a food supply chain.
Ekmel Nuri Baydur, Member of the Executive Board of Migros Ticaret A.Ş., stressed: “We are aware that we can create a real impact only if the entire industry works hand in hand, joining our efforts to combat food waste”.
Prior to joining the “Save Your Food” movement, Migros Ticaret A.Ş. has demonstrated a strong commitment to waste reduction. Among the measures undertaken by the retailer are the development and use of an intelligent stock management system; selling ripe fruits and vegetables, as well as food products that approach expiration date, at discounted prices; donating edible and safe food to food banks and social markets; redirecting surplus food to animal feed and upcycling inedible food waste for production of biogas or compost. These efforts allowed Migros Ticaret A.Ş. to reduce food waste by 24 percent in just two years. Migros Ticaret A.Ş. together with 23 volunteer suppliers, Migros Ticaret A.Ş. became the first Turkish retail company to join the “10x20x30” initiative of the World Resources Institute.
The collaboration with Migros Ticaret A.Ş. has been pursued within the Turkish national movement against food loss and waste “Save Your Food”, which is led jointly by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Turkey, under the framework of FAO-Turkey Partnership Program on Food and Agriculture, financed by Turkey.