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Best Practices by Companies to Reduce Food Waste

November 13, 2015

By: Meghan Stasz, Senior Director of Sustainability

We’ve been talking about food waste a lot lately: about the size of the problem, why GMA co-founded the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) with the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association, and about our recent convening of stakeholders on the issue.  One thing we haven’t talked about as much is what is working when it comes to reducing food waste in the U.S.

FWRA recently released the second annual Best Practices Guide, which aims to help companies in the food industry either get started with food donation or food waste diversion programs or make existing programs even stronger. The guide is full of industry solutions ranging from how to get food to those in need to how to measure food waste. This kind of sharing of success stories can help food companies meet the three goals of FWRA: reduce the amount of food waste generated, increase food donated to those in need, and recycle unavoidable food waste (like egg shells and banana peels), keeping that material out of landfill.

FWRA and this guide were created to help companies learn from each other. One innovation that many companies can learn from involves pudding. Yes, pudding. When a manufacturing line switches from one flavor of pudding to another, that line has to be fully “flushed” between flavors. That way you don’t get butterscotch in your vanilla. In doing so though, some of the previous flavor goes to waste. However, ConAgra Foods, which makes SnackPack pudding, saw this as an opportunity to look at their system and change the order of flavors that go after each other. The result?  Intentionally blended flavors (think chocolate and vanilla). These “mixed flavor” puddings can now be donated. A win-win.

Another aspect of tackling food waste is finding value in excess produce. During harvest season, a significant amount of produce is often left in the field or orchard because there just isn’t a market for it. In the 2015 Best Practices Guide, we hear how the Campbell’s Soup Company teamed up with Feeding America in New Jersey to harvest excess peaches and turn them into peach salsa for the local food bank. This Just Peachy salsa is a great success story of how cross-sector collaboration can get food to the hungry and turn something that was once considered waste into a great product!

FWRA plans to update the guide annually as we continue to learn about how to reduce waste, donate more food, and divert food waste from landfill. We know companies are constantly finding new and innovative ways to overcome these hurdles every day. By sharing these successes, we can make a real impact on food waste.

 

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3 Comments »

  1. I recently learned that “ugly” produce also goes to waste if it doesn’t meet the grocery industry’s strict cosmetic standards. I’m extremely interested in learning more about how consumers like myself can affect change on the current standards. Any advice?

    Comment by Kristin — March 6, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment, Kristin, and your interest in playing a role in reducing food waste especially when it comes to ‘ugly food.’ The food industry is making strides when it comes to adjusting cosmetic standards, and you can do the same by purchasing what might typically be referred to as ugly or imperfect. Consumer awareness is the first step so the more this produce is purchased, the quicker it will lose the ugly and imperfect labels.

    Comment by BKennedy — March 8, 2016 @ 3:47 pm

  3. It is great that there is such practices to reduce trash by the companies. This is giving great example to their employees and the society as well!!

    Comment by Melody Soto — March 17, 2016 @ 10:15 am

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