In the grocery industry, food waste is simply a fact of doing business. In fact, about 40 percent of all food in the U.S. is wasted along the path from farm to fork, according to the National Resources Defense Council.
Most of this loss occurs outside the retail store, but the food that is wasted here is felt two-fold: a waste of the resource itself as well as money for the grocer.
A saved product is a sellable product, so today we’re going to look at four ways you can reduce food waste in your grocery store.
* Understand your starting point. Many grocers simply see food waste as unavoidable, and because of that, they don't pay as much attention to their total loss as they should. Every wasted product counts, and conducting a thorough audit of your store can help you identify the total food waste in every location. Use this data to pinpoint areas where loss is the highest — a few may surprise you — and set these areas as focal points for waste-reduction initiatives.
* Create, but don’t stock, the illusion. When customers enter our stores they expect to see shelves heaped with produce, fresh meat and other offerings. It’s more than they could ever buy, and as such, much of it ends up wasted. Instead, build your displays on a foundation of dummy layers or shallow baskets while reducing your real food offerings. You’ll create the same visual appeal without the excess inventory or cost.
* Consolidate pack options. Offering produce or other products in a pack option is good for the consumer because it offers them a better return for their money. However, offering a wide array of pack options provides too many choices and results in waste for you. Instead of offering produce in a 3-pack, 6-pack and 10-pack, for example, simply offer the 3-pack. Those who need more can buy two and reduce your waste even more.
* Explore your supply chain options. If your suppliers deliver product at a rate greater than you can sell it, the loss for the excess will ultimately fall to you. Instead, explore your records to better understand your store’s selling habits for commonly wasted items. If you sell 50 avocados a day, for example, and you’re ordering 100, you’re setting yourself up for loss. Inquire about the possibility of ordering smaller cases or ordering less often. As long as you don’t jeopardize freshness, it’s an easy way to save money and reduce waste.
Waste exists in every business, but that doesn’t mean you have to be content with your loss numbers. Understanding the waste levels that exist in your store is the first step and sets you up to establish strategies for reducing them. The more you know about your loss, the more prepared you can be to eliminate it.
To learn more about how Topco Indirect can help you reduce waste and improve efficiency in your business, contact us today.