Retailers lose millions in margin as they discount products that are close to their expiry date, and millions more to the bottom line when they donate products or worst case, throw them away. While it is possible that the problem could be seen as simply a marketing expense, and the "cost" of always being in-stock, of offering freshness and plenty of abundant displays, many shoppers no longer tolerate the high levels of waste they see in the store, or in the bins at the back of supermarkets. Thus, it is becoming increasingly important for retailers to address food waste, while at the same time growing sales and delighting the shopper.
To date, retailers have been making strong progress, with retailer and producer case studies in waste prevention published in reports from the Consumer Goods Forum and Eurocommerce. At ECR, the food waste prevention working group has identified the critical role of collaboration, and cases from both Albert and Tesco, confirm how through better collaboration significant improvements in waste, and at the same time, growing sales, can be delivered.
In 2019, with the support of Eurocommerce, ECR wll launch the Retail Food Waste Prevention Challenge, and will search the world for start-ups offering new technology and process innovation that could help reduce retail food waste. The Challenge will kick- off in January 2019, with interviews with a panel of retailers (“the sharks”) to understand the key pain points in managing the food waste problem, per fresh category, per production and non production items, and where new ideas, technologies and approaches could potentially play a "game changing" role in delivering breakthrough reductions in waste.
To deliver the Challenge, ECR will again partner with Co-Cubed, the same agency who helped ECR deliver the successful loss prevention innovation challenge in 2018. From February, Co-cubed will begin their search for the promising start-ups that can deliver against the brief. Looking beyond just retail, the search will look to other domains such as pharmaceuticals, medicine and restaurants, where waste is an equally relevent problem, for new thinking and start-ups.
The challenge will conclude at the ECR waste working groups in Brussels on June 26th & 27th , with a speed dating event on the 26th where the attending retailers and producers will get to meet the start-ups 1:1 and then on Thursday, the finale, where the final short listed start-ups will get to pitch their ideas to the "sharks" made up of senior leaders from Tesco, Lidl, Albert, Delhaize and Sonae. The winning pitches and start ups will get the chance of a in-store trial and the opportunity to partner with five of the leading supermarket companies in Europe.
To learn more about the challenge, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the next working group meeting, and the draft agenda, click here. This meeting is free to attend for any retailer, producer or academic.