Rodrigo Gouveia, secretary general of the Euro Coop – one of Europe’s largest retail networks – said that retailers sit “in a special place” because they are the last link before the consumer.

“They are in a position where they can gather views from consumers and pass that onto the rest of the supply chain – they are very influential,” he argued.

Because of this, retailers carry an added responsibility to try and drive better waste management across the entire value chain – not just in food, but packaging too, Gouveia maintained.

The Euro Coop is a European association of consumer cooperatives that mainly operates in food retail. In countries such as Italy, Denmark and Finland, it is the market leader for this sector – in total, it operates 36,000 points of sale across 21 countries.

Several of its members are working on waste reduction drives. In Finland for example, national retail chain S-Group has managed to reduce food waste losses by 14% due to discounting products close before their ‘best before’ date.

Gouveia said meaningful solutions to food waste would only be found through collaboration. As well as lobbying at EU level, his organisation also sits on a food waste taskforce recently set up in Brussels.

The group comprises key stakeholders along the entire value chain including farmers, packaging experts, manufacturers, transport hauliers and consumers.

“This aims to identify the key issues both upstream and downstream. Educating consumers is one of the biggest challenges and we are looking to engage more on a local community level to address this,” he said.

Gouveia was speaking earlier today at the Resource & Waste Management (RWM) show in Birmingham.

Maxine Perella

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