Food waste generation and prevention measures in retail sector: a comparative study
Keywords:food waste, retail stores, waste prevention, seasonal variation
Food waste in the supply chain is a big issue because it causes an unnecessary environmental impact, costs to the sector and consumers, as well as costs for waste treatment, and it is a missed opportunity to feed people suffering hunger. Calculations show that approximately 30% of all world food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted at some stage of the food supply chain, with the retail sector being responsible for approximately 5% of losses in developed countries. Several studies on food waste and loses have been performed in the international also in some national perspectives. These studies mostly give an overall food chain perspective and do not provide detailed information about food waste in specific stages or locations. Retail sector is one of the actors of the supply chain where there is still a gap in data and information regarding the state of the problem of food waste, and especially in Central and Eastern European region. The number of currently conducted studies regarding amounts of retail food waste, its types, causes and methods of waste minization is limited or hindered by poor data resolution, because most of the retailers do not publicize the information about the quantities of wastes and their treatment. Therefore a better understanding of the food wastage within retail stores is necessary in order to assess actual scale of the problem and to determine efficient waste prevention measures.
This work aims on food losses assessment in Lithuanian retail sector, as well as discussion and comparison of the root causes of food waste generation with the neighbouring countries in North Europe, in order to facilitate food waste prevention measures. Semi-structured questionnaire survey was chosen as data collection method as it allowed for collection of comprehensive and comparable information on food losses in a relatively short time. Data were collected at 21 retail stores, which belong to 3 biggest retail chains in Lithuania. For the comparative study available literature on food waste assessment and prevention practices of Nordic countries was analyzed.
The data from interviews reveal quantities of food waste generated in Lithuanian retail sector, the composition of the food waste, as well as sector’s attitude to the problem and willingness to contribute to solving it. Differences in food waste in different retail chains, as well as variations depending on season of the year were evaluated as well. A comparative study with the neighbouring countries highlighted similarities and differences in waste generation, pointed to the potential prevention measures as well as learning opportunities for food waste minimization
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