Executive Update

GMA Launches Cross-Industry Member Survey on Food Waste

As part of GMA's overall effort on waste, the Food Waste Opportunities and Challenges initiative has just launched a survey of GMA and FMI members to quantify food waste generation and disposal in our facilities.

The food waste effort is a three-year, cross-industry initiative with two overall goals: to send less food waste to landfills and to send more food to food banks. The effort, which is funded and staffed by GMA, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), and the National Restaurant Association (NRA,) brings together a significant part of the supply chain to tackle this economic, environmental, and social challenge.

The effort is divided into four subcommittees: assessment, which is looking to quantify the sources and causes of food waste; communication, which oversees outreach to and education of stakeholders; policy which is looking at low cost policy options the private sector can support to make progress on landfill alternatives or increased food donation; and emerging solutions which is identifying the solutions and technologies on the horizon for our industry. The effort is co-chaired by Publix Super Markets and General Mills.

The recently launched assessment will survey GMA and FMI member companies to quantify the amount of food waste generated and its method of disposal. Donation is also quantified in this survey. Results will be aggregated by Kelley Drye, GMA's third party law firm to ensure confidentiality of data. The purpose of this anonymous survey is to fully understand the manufacturing and retail picture on food waste. This aggregate data will be used to establish a baseline for food waste mitigation improvements in coming years and to identify opportunities for improved efficiencies in our operations.

This proactive, cross-industry leadership effort on an important social and environmental challenge has grown dramatically, since its launch in June 2010. Participants now range from The Kroger Company to Yum! Brands to Nestlé to Waste Management. All agree that understanding the baseline data on food waste generation from our sectors, data that is currently unavailable, is a necessary first step toward significant progress on this important issue. The surveys are due back at the end of June and a report will be made to the GMA and FMI Boards with the baseline results in August.

This work ties-in closely with other GMA work on packaging and sustainable waste management as well as aggregating industry successes. Many examples of innovation in both categories, for example, can be found in the Sustainability Success Stories report created with PwC and released in February. The baseline data from this member survey and the ever increasing innovative solutions to this important challenge will result in significant progress for the industry.