Nestlé to redistribute site-level food waste set aside for animal feed

A new initiative from Nestlé and food redistribution organisation Company Shop could increase the amount of food redistributed from UK operations by two million meals annually, by using site assessments to reduce waste at its source.

Nestlé has already donated the equivalent of more than seven million meals to charitable courses through the Fareshare initiative, but the company is now working with Company Shop and WRAP to increase the levels of redistributed food.

The partners are undertaking detailed site assessments to identify new opportunities to redistribute part-processed foods that would otherwise be used for animal feed or anaerobic digestion. Both Nestlé and Company Shop estimate that the new approach will increase food donations by the equivalent of two million meals annually.

Nestlé UK and Ireland’s head of environmental sustainability Andy Griffiths said: “As a food manufacturer, we see food waste as a very important issue for business and society. To help us reduce and find good uses for our surplus food we’ve been working with our partners to find innovative ways to address these issues in our supply chain but also to help the wider industry.

“By increasing the amount of food going through charitable redistribution, collectively we can make a significant impact and help people in need as well as reduce the environmental challenges associated with food waste.”

Around £13bn of food is wasted in the UK, but only 17% of edible surplus food is currently being redistributed through charitable or commercial applications. Research from WRAP also suggests that half of the food waste generated in manufacturing and retail sectors is avoidable.

Traditionally, finished and packed food products are much easier to redistribute through organisations like Fareshare. But Nestlé is looking to give redistribution companies like the Company Shop – which has helped Nestlé save tens of thousands of food waste through its network – access to more food by targeting supply and manufacturing sites.  

All Nestlé UK and Ireland factories have been operating with a verified zero-waste-to-landfill status since 2015, with waste food being sent to animal feed and to generate biogas. The latest initiative forms part of the company’s ambition to become a zero-waste business.

Commenting on the initiative, WRAP’s head of food sustainability Dr David Moon said: “This is an excellent example of organisations collaborating to boost food redistribution. With its partners, Nestlé has developed practices that work within its own network, and which – more importantly – can now be shared and replicated to benefit the sector more widely.

“This sort of innovative thinking will help the wider sector in contributing towards the Courtauld Commitment 2025 ambition to double the amount of surplus food redistributed by 2020.”

Hidden supply

Nestlé’s announcement mirrors a recent trend of companies looking across the entire value chain spectrum to find ways to target food waste. Asda and the Co-op have agreed to align the environmental data they request from mutual suppliers. In fact, East of England Co-op is now selling certain food items that have gone beyond their best-before date.

Companies such as Unilever, Mars and PepsiCo have all formed a partnership to develop free science-based decision tools that improve farm-level sustainability reporting metrics and data collection.

Elsewhere, Tesco struck a deal with its largest food suppliers for them to adopt the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to halve food waste by 2030.

Matt Mace

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