10 Tips on How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Store

10 Tips on How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Store

Did you know that every year, an estimated one-third of all the food produced for human consumption—equivalent to 1.3 billion tons—ends up in landfills or is lost during production and distribution? Both grocery retailers and consumers play pivotal roles in combating grocery store food waste. This guide delves into practical strategies on how to reduce food waste for both grocery retailers and customers to minimize waste in stores, focusing on commonly wasted food items. 

Strategies for Grocery Retailers

  1. Establish an Efficient Expiry Management Process

Efficient expiry management is the cornerstone for reducing food waste and ensuring a streamlined grocery store operation. Strive to implement a system that doesn’t allow associates to “miss” or “forget” fresh items nearing expiry by prompting them to check specific items. Having a good process from the start will then trickle down to ordering and inventory management. 

  1. Educate Staff and Consumers

An informed staff is the first line of defense against grocery store food waste. Provide comprehensive training on proper storage and handling techniques for perishable items. Emphasize the importance of minimizing waste within the store. It is also beneficial to display informative posters or brochures near relevant sections, educating customers on the impact of food waste. Empower them with knowledge so that they are aware of how to reduce food waste at home. 

  1. Recipe Cards

Enhance the customer experience by providing recipe cards near food items, suggesting creative ways to utilize products. Include quick and easy recipes for items like potato cakes, croutons, or smoothies. 

  1. Optimize Stock Management

Implementing effective stock management is key to reducing grocery store food waste. Utilize inventory management systems to monitor product shelf life. Encourage a first-in, first-out approach to diminish overstocking. 

  1. In-Store Foodservice

Transform unsold items, such as bread, potatoes, cheese, etc., into in-store bakery items or ready-to-eat meals. This not only reduces waste but also adds value to otherwise discarded products. 

  1. Markdown Prices

Dynamic pricing strategies for items nearing expiration can entice customers and mitigate waste. Clearly label discounted items and promote them through various channels to maximize visibility. 

  1. Collaborate with Local Organizations

Forge partnerships with local charities to redirect surplus but still edible food to those in need. Collaborate with food banks to ensure excess perishables find a purpose, aligning your store with community welfare. 

  1. Nudging Strategies

Create a dedicated “Waste Reduction Zone” in your store, featuring attractive displays. Utilize eco-friendly branding and signage to communicate the importance of waste reduction. Ensure the pricing and displays are visually appealing to encourage customer engagement. 

  1. Digital Communication

Leverage digital platforms to disseminate information about reducing food waste in grocery stores. Send push notifications or emails containing tips, recipes, and alerts about upcoming markdowns to keep customers informed. 

  1. Reward Programs and Community Events

Implement loyalty programs rewarding customers for choosing products from the waste reduction zone. Organize events or workshops focused on how to reduce food waste, featuring local experts to strengthen community ties. 

As we explore strategies for grocery retailers, it’s essential to understand the context of specific food items that often get wasted. Let’s delve into the top five commonly wasted foods and how retailers can implement effective measures to minimize their disposal.

top 5 wasted products

Top 5 Wasted Food

1. Bread

Waste Reduction Strategy: 

  • Freezing: Bread freezes well, so store it in the freezer if not using immediately. 
  • Upcycling: If bread goes stale, turn it into croutons or breadcrumbs for added texture and flavor in dishes. 
  • Nudging for Customers: In-store recipe cards and discount programs for bread nearing expiration.

2. Milk

Waste Reduction Strategy: 

  • Proper Storage & Handling: Keep the fridge below 5°C to extend the freshness of milk. 
  • Freezing: Freeze milk in ice cube trays for use in smoothies or iced coffees. 
  • Nudging for Customers: Recipe suggestions and reduced pricing on milk close to expiration. 

3. Potatoes

Waste Reduction Strategy: 

  • Proper Storage & Handling: Store potatoes in a dark, dry place, preferably in breathable bags like paper or burlap. 
  • Creative Use: Turn leftover cooked potatoes into potato cakes or gnocchi, which can be frozen for later use. 
  • Nudging for Customers: Smart shopping tips and in-store cooking demos featuring potatoes. 

4. Cheese

Waste Reduction Strategy: 

  • Proper Storage & Handling: Package hard cheeses in parchment paper to allow them to breathe. 
  • Freezing: Grate excess cheese and freeze it for later use, even if some mold appears. 
  • Nudging for Customers: Discount programs on bulk purchases and recipe inspiration for leftover cheese. 

5. Apples

Waste Reduction Strategy: 

  • Proper Storage & Handling: Clean and dry apples before storing them in a cold, dark, and well-ventilated place. 
  • Creative Use: Make dried apple snacks in the oven or freeze apples for later use. 
  • Nudging for Customers: Educational materials on apple storage and in-store events showcasing apple-related recipes. 

Unifying Retailers and Consumers 

The battle against grocery store food waste requires a united front from both grocery retailers and consumers. Retailers can implement practical strategies such as staff education, optimized stock management, and sustainable practices to minimize food waste in grocery stores. Collaborations with local organizations and innovative pricing strategies further contribute to a waste-conscious approach. 

Consumers, armed with knowledge from educational materials, recipe cards, and discount programs, play a crucial role in making informed choices. Encouraging practices like freezing and smart shopping align with the collective effort to reduce waste. 

About Invafresh

With a combined 500+ years of Freshology experience, the heritage of Invafresh has enabled fresh food retailers to create extraordinary store operations performance and differentiated customer experiences. As the leader of Freshology, Invafresh is deployed in over 350 grocery retailers spanning a global reach of 35 countries with more than $100 million of Fresh revenue being transacted daily, to provide AI/ML demand forecasting, merchandising, replenishment, and sustainability and compliance solutions.  

Learn more at About Us | Invafresh.

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