Some 240 delegates from nearly 30 countries joined this year’s Sustainable Retail Summit, held in Paris on 27th & 28th October. The event delivered on its promise to inspire and inform, leaving participants equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to implement sustainable business practices in their organisations and drive positive change across the industry.

The conference brought together thought leaders from business, government and civil society and was a unique education and networking opportunity for all those in attendance. 

Food loss and waste reduction was one of the three core themes of this year’s summit, with three sessions focused exclusively on the topic.  The summaries of these sessions can be found below and have been taken from the Sustainable Retail Summit Executive Summary.

Megatrend Panel Discussion: Food Waste

Mike Coupe, CEO, Sainsbury’s; Dave Lewis, Group CEO, Tesco; Craig Hanson, Global Director (Food, Forect & Water), World Resources Institute; Sabine Juelicher, Director, DG Health & Food Safety, Directorate E-Food and feed safety Innovation, European Commission; Pierre Galio, Head of the Consumer and Prevention Department, ADEME; Bertrand Swiderski, Director of Sustainability, Carrefour Group

The convening power of the CGF was on show as CEOs Mike Coupe and Dave Lewis shared their company’s stories on tackling food waste. Mike began by talking about why food waste is important. He gave three key reasons: customers demand it, it’s the right thing to do and it makes business sense. It’s key to saving money and building consumer trust. He gave an overview of the work being done by Sainsbury’s: achieving zero waste to landfill three years ago, donating food to 1,000 partners and measuring and reporting on the amount of food wasted. He concluded by talking about the importance of their community programme to educate consumers on how to reduce waste at home.

Dave then gave his thoughts on the importance of organisations like Champions 12.3 and the CGF in bringing stakeholders together to collaborate. He talked about the four years that Tesco has been committed to tackling food waste, a commitment that began with engaging the opinion of farmers and has led to the publication of data that covers the entire supply chain. He emphasised how Tesco measures individual items to ensure the most accurate data. He admitted it’s difficult, but much has been achieved by working with partners. Dave concluded by talking about the opportunities for retailers and manufacturers and in how Tesco has committed to having no food safe for human consumption wasted by the end of 2017.

The two CEOs then came together to openly discuss the role of legislation and self-regulation in tackling food waste, what “waste” actually means and emphasised the importance of collective action. Both also agreed the fundamental role measurement and reporting is playing in this area.

Note: To read a full transcript of Tesco’s Dave Lewis presentation and to have access to his slides, please click here.

The panel discussion began with a similar message. Craig Hanson stressed the need to target, measure and act. He said we are all in this together, but we have to motivate action – something the CGF Food Waste Resolution and recent Food Loss and Waste Standard have helped achieve.

Sabine Juelicher then shared her thoughts on the important role legislation can play. She highlighted areas the EU Commission is currently working on to help member states tackle this problem, including their EU Circular Economy Package and a proposal to ask member states to report on food waste across the value chain, including in the home.

Pierre Galio added to the legislation discussion by discussing the winning strategy for French retail. He said that while self-regulation and voluntary actions were important, a new French law on food waste for retailers has helped to make sure everything is even for everyone. He also said he saw no reason why the law couldn’t work outside of France.

Lastly, Bertrand Swiderski brought us back to the role of business and collaboration. He showcased examples of how Carrefour has been working with its suppliers to tackle the issue, including “zebra bananas” and green pineapples. He said it’s important to start with your own operations and that thanks to the CGF we are now working together as an industry to find solutions. 

Breakout Session: Taking Action on Reducing Waste

Sharla Halvorson, Sustainability Manager Global R&D, Nestlé S.A.; Craig Hanson, Global Director (Food, Forests & Water), World Resources Institute

Craig Hanson then proceeded to explain the Food Loss and Waste Protocol, a multi-stakeholder partnership convened by the World Resources Institute composed of seven partner organisations including the CGF. In June 2016, the FLW Protocol released the first-ever FLW Standard, a global standard providing requirements and guidance to measure food loss and waste. Craig emphasised that the standard is an effective, practical and transparent way to measure food loss and waste focused on why to quantify, what to quantify and how to quantify food waste. 

Next, Sharla Halvorson shared a real-life example with the audience how Nestlé used the FLW Standard in their own operations to reduce waste in their milk supply chain in Pakistan, highlighting the use of an internal food loss and waste toolkit produced by the company and available to all Nestlé employees.

The session then broke into three groups, including an experienced individual in food loss and waste reduction in each group to discuss how to build a food loss and waste mapping plan for their organisations. The plans included the criteria of a timeframe, material type, destination, boundary and method. This type of interactive best practice sharing is what the Sustainable Retail Summit is all about. Individuals in each group asked specific questions and were met with specific answers by each food loss and waste expert. These key learnings will be vital for the successful implementation of the FLW Standard in participant organisations that will ultimately help reduce global levels of food waste. 

Food Waste Workshop

Ignacio Gavilan, Director, Environmental Sustainability, The Consumer Goods Forum; James Skidmore, Environmental Resources Manager, Sainsbury’s; Richard Swannell, Director, WRAP; Evelyne Banquy, Head of Environmental Sustainability, Intermarché Alimentaire International; Jacques Bailet, President, The French Food Bank Federation; Tineke Oudega-Kok, Operations Development Director, Danone; Nicolas Chabanne, Founder of Les Gueules Cassées; Jean Moreau, Co-founder and President, PHENIX; Bertrand Swiderski, Director of Sustainability, Carrefour Group

Ignacio Gavilan started off this food waste workshop by underlining that the session would be an opportunity to share best practices through four case studies and to create a two-way dialogue around the issue. 

The set of speakers introduced Sainsbury’s “Waste Less, Save More” initiative as the session’s first case study. James Skidmore explained that their strategy to reduce food loss and waste focuses on consumer behaviours at home, looking for innovative solutions to tackle household food waste. Sainsbury’s uses a baseline provided by WRAP for their reporting to determine the change in food wasted by Sainsbury’s consumers. Both speakers were interactive, asking the audience questions with a show of hands demonstrating how many either agreed or disagreed with the food waste statement on the screen. An example of which was the question posed by Richard Swannell on the size of the area needed to produce the food that is wasted every year around the world – the answer being the same size as China. 

The second set of speakers elaborated on Intermarché’s Food Waste Programme, which includes collaboration with the French Food Bank Federation but also a campaign, similar to Sainbury’s, that focuses on changing consumer behaviour and food culture. Evelyne Banquy described this campaign, titled the Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables, as focused on increasing consumption of traditionally ugly produce. Jacques Bailet then expanded on partnerships the French Food Bank Federation has with various companies, including Intermarché, and highlighted key successes of the Federation over the past few years.

The third case study was presented by Tineke Oudega-kok, who explained Danone’s Zero Waste Programme in depth including the company’s aim of reducing waste by 50% in their factories. Tineke spoke about how Danone is using the Food Loss and Waste Standard in their initiative, stressing the importance of collaboration in addressing food waste and how best practice sharing is also a critical success factor in this collective challenge. 

The last set of speakers were focused on innovative solutions to food waste. Bertrand Swiderski emphasised the importance of new ideas in tackling this issue and that Carrefour fully supports start-ups that have novel solutions to food loss and waste reduction, often showcasing their products in their stores. One of these start-ups is Les Gueles Cassées which its founder, Nicolas Chabanne, explained is a company selling products made from visually unappealing food. Nicolas underlined the ongoing importance of explaining to consumers the vast quantities of food wasted in the country and how the products, although they may have small visual defects, are just as good and healthy to consumer as others. Jean Moreau then spoke about his company PHENIX, a new way to help stores reduce potential food and non-food waste by linking them to charities, farms, and other actors in real time using an app. 

The session concluded with a panel discussion between audience and speakers on their key insights into food loss and waste.