The Consumer Goods Forum has created its first baseline dataset for its members' food waste, in an exercise that has been hailed a "significant step" forward for the industry's efforts to halve food waste by 2030.
A report published last week by the business coalition notes that 16 of the retail and manufacturing firms in the group produced 2.12 million tonnes of food waste in 2021, with retailers responsible for 929,000 tonnes and manufacturers producing 1.19 million of waste.
The data is designed to establish a transparent baseline from which industry progress in reducing food waste and related greenhouse gas emissions can be measured.
"The scale of the problem of food loss and waste to our society, economy and planet can be difficult to comprehend," said Max Koeune, president and CEO of McCain Foods. "Having this new coalition baseline by which to measure our progress on food loss and waste each year will not only help us understand just how much work remains to be done but will help set a clear pathway forward for action."
The scale of the problem of food loss and waste to our society, economy and planet can be difficult to comprehend.
Transparent public reporting and monitoring of food waste is a key pillar of the work of the Consumer Goods Forum's 21-member Food Waste Coalition, alongside efforts to push consumers, suppliers, and policymakers to better tackle the global food waste mountain.
On top of gathering food waste data, the baseline report sets out a raft of other quantitative data and provides a summary of the action businesses are taking to set food waste reduction targets, work with suppliers to improve resource efficiency, and encourage customers to reduce food waste.
The baseline report does not disclose which of the Food Waste Coalition members completed the disclosure exercise. Asked by BusinessGreen about which of the forum's members had not submitted data, the Consumer Goods Fourm said it could not share any company names.
"We unfortunately cannot provide the names of the companies," a spokesperson said via email. "Some members were not part of the coalition when we started this project. It is a moving ambition and next time we report the expectation is there that they will all be included."
Ken Murphy, group chief executive of Tesco, said the report demonstrated the coalition's "commitment to transparency" as he called on more companies to commit to tackling food waste.
Public reporting on food loss and waste is widely recognized as a trigger for rapid and effective action.
"Our coalition is working hard to create solutions to the food waste and loss challenges in our own operations, and our supply chains both upstream and downstream," he said. "We welcome the findings of this report, as it represents our commitment to transparency going forwards. We now want to see solid progression along our pathway towards halving food waste, and with a baseline we can now track our collective achievements. We encourage other companies to lean into the challenges, and join us on our journey."
The report comes just a few months after the government confirmed it had ditched proposals to force companies to report on food waste, despite running a consultation last year on the plan. Campaigners from Feedback have launched a legal challenge against the decision to shelve the plan, arguing it could prove unlawful as it was not based on a reasonable or rational view of the evidence.
Sharon Bligh, director of health and sustainability at the Food Waste Coalition, said tackling food loss and waste could help tackle climate change while also helping relieving hunger.
"Public reporting on food loss and waste is widely recognized as a trigger for rapid and effective action," she said. "This baseline report represents a line in the sand for our coalition, and we are confident that it will help guide our 2030 roadmap to ensure we fully understand the challenges and opportunities to end food waste."