Stefanie Valentic, Editorial Director

February 4, 2021

6 Min Read

It's one of the biggest events in the United States - for food waste.

Falling just behind Thanksgiving, Super Bowl spending averages around $80 per person annually, according to the National Retail Association. The majority of that spending, 77%, is on food and beverage. Despite stay-at-home orders and social distancing, Americans still are expected to spend $13.9 billion on food for Super Bowl LV, which is down from $17.2 billion from 2020. 

With 186.6 million U.S. football fans ready to tune in to the big game, mayonnaise brand Hellmann's is ready to tackle the challenge of food waste in a new commercial starring comedian Amy Schumer. It is the first-ever Super Bowl commercial to cover the topic of food waste. 

"It was startling to learn how much food gets thrown out in our homes, especially when you consider how many people are struggling to put food on their tables," said Amy Schumer in a statement. "I'm proud to partner with Hellmann's to bring awareness to this issue and help provide people with tangible ways to make easy changes at home. Simple steps like embracing imperfect foods and organizing your fridge or pantry can start to help reduce waste and inspire creativity in the kitchen."

The 30-second spot will air during the third commercial break in the second quarter of Super Bowl LV. Award-winning director, screenwriter and producer Peter Ferrelly, known for hit comedies such as Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary, directed the commercial. 

"We're excited to partner with both Amy Schumer and Peter Farrelly to bring attention to such an important issue that we can help change," said Ben Crook, senior marketing director for Hellmann's North America. "We learned that the reason people tend to waste so much food at home is because they end up with disparate ingredients, like half a chicken breast, an avocado, a lone onion, and aren't inspired or sure how to use them."

Research firm Euromonitor International reported that Americans purchased $1.2 billion worth of mayonnaise in 2020, a 16% increase from 2019.

Crook recently told Waste360 about the upcoming commercial, discussed Hellmann's and parent company Unilever's food waste initiatives and explained why federal standardization of food date labels is needed.

Waste360: When did Hellmann’s begin addressing the issue of food waste?

Ben Crook: Hellmann's is committed to inspiring more than 100 million people around the world to waste less food each year. This effort is part of a larger commitment to help achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goal of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.

In 2020, as an initial step towards this larger vision, the brand started the Hellmann’s Food Relief Fund, which has already saved 1.2 million pounds of food from farms that would have otherwise gone to waste, and redistributed this food to communities in need.  This work is part of our larger brand purpose and belief that food is too good to be wasted.  In 2021 we are executing a comprehensive strategy that will allow us to harness the power of our brand and help create systemic change. Our consumers can look forward to a variety of upcoming initiatives and efforts that we will be leading to move the needle on our mission to reduce food waste.

Waste360: Can you please explain Hellmann’s program to reduce food waste?

Crook: Our ambition is two-fold. Raise awareness of the issue of household food waste and provide practical, effective solutions that help people reduce the amount of edible food they throw away in their homes. Our goal is to help educate people and elevate awareness of the issue of food waste as part of our commitment to inspiring more than 100 million people around the world to be more resourceful with their food and waste less food each year.   

The Hellmann’s initiative, “Make Taste, Not Waste”, is part of Unilever’s “Future Foods” ambition, which launched globally in 2020 with two key objectives: to help people transition towards healthier diets and to help reduce the environmental impact of the global food chain. One of the key “Future Foods” commitments is to halve food waste in Unilever’s direct global operations from factory to shelf by 2025.

Waste360: This is the first-ever food waste-focused Super Bowl ad. Why now?

Crook: Super Bowl is a big cultural moment and also one of the biggest “food moments” when people often buy and make more food than needed, which can lead to eventual food waste.  And it’s not just this moment in time. Shockingly, 40% of all food in the U.S. goes to waste and 43% of that wasted food is happening in our homes. That’s why we’re using this moment to kick-off to our larger mission around the issue of food waste.  As a brand we want to help Americans waste less food at home and feel inspired to use ingredients they have on hand to be more creative in the kitchen.

Waste360: What planning went into the commercial to ensure it was informative and entertaining?

Crook: We’ve all experienced that moment when we look in our fridge and feel we have “nothing” because we’re looking at disparate ingredients that we don’t quite know what to do with and end up tossing out. Our concept was inspired by this insight. It encourages consumers to get creative in the kitchen and “make taste, not waste” with what they have on hand.

We’re thrilled to be partnering with Amy Schumer to help raise awareness around the issue of food waste. Amy is passionate about helping people and also about food, which is why we knew she would feel a connection to what we are doing and want to help educate consumers on this issue in an engaging way.

Waste360: Were there any other organizations such as ReFED that provided input? How is Hellmann’s working with/supporting this organization and its efforts?

Crook: Collaboration with the right organizations is critical if we’re going to create real change, which is why one of the core tenets of our strategy is grant-making as a way to support research and the expertise of others already dedicated to the topic of wasted food. As part of this strategy, Hellmann’s provided a $100,000 commitment to ReFED, a national nonprofit that works to reduce U.S. food waste by providing the food system with data and solutions to prevent, rescue, and recycle food at risk of going to waste. ReFED’s original Roadmap report from 2016 was instrumental in informing our understanding of the scale and causes of wasted food, and ultimately helping us to crystalize our longer term mission.

By supporting ReFED and its latest project, the Insights Engine, we will create a path of action that consumers, food brands and retailers can take to reduce food waste. Our work will focus on developing insights, consumer education, consumer behavior strategies that will be useful and simple tools for people to reduce food waste.  

Waste360: Are there any other efforts or initiatives coming up in 2021?

Crook: A major focus for us this year is driving forward legislative policy for the federal standardization and clarity of food date labels. Confusion around date labels is one of the most common and avoidable causes of consumer waste and we are laser-focused on solving this. We are leading this work with Littlefoot Ventures in partnership with Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. With a stacked team of experts at the helm alongside us, our goal is to facilitate shared knowledge on Date Labelling and create an upswell of multi-stakeholder support to create federal legislation on standardized date labelling. Additionally, Hellmann’s will kick-off an In-Home Food Waste Intervention Study among U.S. families to better understand behaviors and motivations to reduce at home food waste and provide educational resources to inspire longer-team behavior changes.


About the Author(s)

Stefanie Valentic

Editorial Director, Waste360

Stefanie Valentic is the editorial director of Waste360. She can be reached at [email protected].


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