I’ve tried to take a stance through the personal choices I make in my everyday life. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years, I’m a strong advocate for recycling, and I compost all of the food waste I generate at home. One area I’ve long overlooked and I’m still trying to get on track is the amount of food I waste.

Sometimes it feels almost like a badge of honor to not finish that last bite on my plate or devour every crumb — evidence that I haven’t over-indulged. As I started to lead food waste measurement and reduction for Campbell this past year, it inspired me to take a closer look at my own choices related to food waste.

I realize now how terrible it is to leave food on my plate when approximately one-third of all food produced in the world intended for human consumption is lost or wasted, while one in nine people remain undernourished.

The level of inefficiency in the broader global food system has tremendous economic, social, and environmental consequences. It amounts to economic losses of close to $1 trillion per year.

A lot of Benefit from Even a Little Investment

A new report from Champions 12.3 on The Business Case for Reducing Food Loss and Waste describes just how much benefit is possible.

The report found the average benefit to cost ratio for companies — where half of company sites (manufacturing or retail locations) achieved a higher ratio while half achieved a lower ratio — was 14:1. To look at that another way — for every $1 invested in food loss and waste reduction, the median company site realized a $14 return!

By reducing food loss and waste, companies in the research study reported avoiding the purchase of too much product (as a retailer) or too much ingredient (as a food manufacturer); increasing the share of food that is sold to customers; introducing new product lines made from food that otherwise would have been lost or wasted; and reducing food waste management costs.

At Campbell, We Have Long Worked to Reduce Food Waste in our Operations 

Food waste reduction aligns with our purpose — Real food that matters for life’s moments and as a Champion in Champions 12.3, our CEO Denise Morrison joins executives from government, business, and civil society to take action on food waste reduction.

In Campbell operations, we eliminate food waste at the source by configuring our production equipment to capture what would otherwise be wasted ingredients or final product. We capture food waste to be made into animal feed, reducing the amount of new inputs needed to feed farm animals. And we compost food waste that is not fit for consumption.

Industry Collaboration to Drive Alignment on Food Waste Measurement and Reduction

Campbell is working with other leading companies like Ahold Delhaize and Nestle through The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Food Waste Working Group to align industry around the CGF Food Waste Resolution – to halve the amount of food wasted within the operations of CGF retailer and manufacturer members by 2025 – and to adopt the Food Loss and Waste Standard to measure and report progress on food waste reduction.

I hope you’re inspired as I am to take a closer look at the food you leave in the refrigerator too long, abandon on your plate and toss into the trashcan.

The investment can be small, but you might just find that the impact is meaningful when there’s a greater purpose behind your everyday decisions.

This post was written and contributed by:

Melissa Donnelly
Manager of Sustainability Integration and Metrics, Corporate Social Responsibility at Campbell