Major food brands and retailers have signed up to a new industry working group to explore and support new ways to optimise redistribution networks, most notably through collaboration with suppliers.

The group, which includes ASDA, Boots UK, Kellogg’s, The Co-operative and Wm Morrison Supermarkets, held its first meeting last week to discuss current systems and assess possible solutions to start building a plan of action.

Charities including Fareshare were also represented, as was the British Retail Consortium and WRAP. According to WRAP’s head of food & drink Andy Dawe – who is also group chair – economic benefits can result from better waste management.

“By tackling this with key players across the supply chain we can collectively discover what works and what doesn’t to find the best solutions that we hope will lead to increased redistribution.”

Research released last year revealed that food waste could hold the key to solving many supply chain challenges faced by the signatories. A number of studies are now linking food losses and waste to rises in inflation, food security, resource inputs and climate change.

Analysts are predicting that the average basket of food prices will rise by 15% by June 2013, which could have serious political and social repercussions for security of supplies going forward.

Progress from the food redistribution industry working group will be reported later in the year.

Maxine Perella

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