How to collaborate successfully on food waste and surplus

The first steps

The first step that WRAP always advocates for businesses is to begin by looking at its own operations and adopt a Target, Measure, Act approach to identifying where food is being wasted and why it’s happening at certain stages of the operations process, which is key to minimising overall waste.

Even though this will be a KPI for many businesses, it’s often still the case that some businesses cannot identify exactly how much food waste and surplus is produced or where along the line it happens. However, this is a fundamental aspect of reducing overall waste output and should be the first port of call for all manufacturers.

Collaboration is key

Once a manufacturer has pinpointed where and why the waste is happening, they should set targets to reduce and have action plans in place. They should then consider working across the whole supply chain with their customers and primary suppliers. Manufacturers should have ‘whole chain projects’ in place, whereby they have strong relationships with their partners throughout the farm to fork journey and can each identify areas of potential and current waste throughout operations. The concept of a ‘whole chain project’ pertains to the relationships in place at every stage of the supply chain.

Building these relationships can allow the manufacturer to explore areas that may be leading to waste, throughout the entire life span of food products. Are primary suppliers being left with waste or a surplus? Are retailers providing accurate information/forecasts? Do companies need to improve packaging and labelling to help the end consumer reduce waste in the home – e.g., follow best practice guidance for best before dates and storage advice.