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Supermarkets Should Strive to Stop Waste or Risk Loss of Customers, Says Food Waste Expert

With food waste becoming an ever-more prominent topic in the news, supermarkets will need to take steps to combat food waste or risk losing customers, says Liz Goodwin, senior fellow and director of food loss and waste with the World Resources Institute.

Consumers are becoming aware of the magnitude and cost of wasted food – between 30% and 40% of food produced around the world goes to waste because it is spoiled or tossed, Goodwin says (via Reuters). With a heightened awareness about how much food waste is costing them, consumers will be increasingly demanding indications that supermarkets are making efforts to stem the tide of such waste.

Additionally, consumers will begin to want help with their food choices; supermarkets have the opportunity to keep current customers and attract new ones by offering information on making smart choices. This will lead to building “relationships based on trust” and helping solve the customer loyalty problem, Goodwin says.

 

Vacuum packaging is one way supermarkets are looking into reducing food waste. British grocer J. Sainsbury has reduced waste by more than half in the last year after moving more beefsteak lines into vacuum packing, according to an article The Economist ran in December. Goodwin says that not only does vacuum packaging make for less food waste in the stores, but that it can actually lead to increased sales for the grocer. Consumers are more likely to purchase pricier items if they know they will have the chance to actually use them before they are past their prime.

The Kroger Co. is one grocery store chain that is reaching out to consumers to help them make smart choices in a way that might encourage customers to consider the supermarket a trusted partner. The company launched a program called Sustainability Lives Here, designed to help “highlight easy, earth-friendly and sustainable living practices.” The campaign website includes:

  • An in depth look at Kroger’s sustainable supply chain initiatives;
  • More than $60 in digital coupons targeted toward eco-friendly certifications like Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council, plus organic and natural products across departments;
  • A taste of sustainability using eco-friendly products to create healthy recipes, from Shrimp and Orzo Salad to Blueberry Coconut French Toast Casserole;
  • Green inspiration on how to throw away less while eating well, saving money and keeping valuable resources from going to waste.

The World Resources Institute research shows that, for every $1 invested in things like training staff to lose less food in production, $14 or more were saved.

 

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