The food industry is making clear progress in reducing food waste, with higher rates of food donated and increased investment in solutions, according to a report by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA).
The report highlights ways manufacturing, retail and wholesale, and restaurant sectors are recycling and repurposing food waste, identifies areas of investment, and sheds light on common barriers to food donation and recycling. The research was conducted for FWRA, which was formed in 2011 by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and National Restaurant Association (NRA).
In addition to an overall summary of the 2016 survey findings, the report includes dedicated sections for each of the three industries surveyed: manufacturing, retail/wholesale, and restaurant. Key findings from the food manufacturing sector include:
- Manufacturers recycle 97 percent of food waste generated, with 94 percent recycled to animal feed or to fertilize soil.
- In 2015, the manufacturers responding to the survey donated 156 million pounds of food to food banks.
- Manufacturing companies have high rates of investment across the board, with 50 percent of respondents investing in food waste reduction, food waste disposal, food donations, and food sent to animal feed.
“This research shows the food industry is stepping up to do its part to reduce food waste and get food to those in need,” Meghan Stasz, senior director, sustainability at GMA, said in a statement. “While much progress has been made, more work needs to be done. The report identifies several areas of opportunity including waste measurement and tracking, internal analysis and investment, and collaboration around sharing best practices. All of these are priorities for FWRA.”
The report is part of FWRA’s ongoing effort better understand the current state of food waste as well as show how the collection and processing of food waste has changed and progressed. One notable finding from this year’s research is the challenge of accurate measurement and tracking of food waste across all industry sectors.
“There is a distinct need for improved tracking and measurement so companies will be able to better understand what types of food waste they are generating and where it is occurring,” Stasz said in a statement. “This will enable them to tailor food waste reduction and diversion methods to their organizational needs; a win-win for the company, the industry and everyone in between.”
To access the full 2016 Food Waste Assessment, click here.