Food waste: a $22.5 bn opportunity for US retailers

Wednesday, 31 January, 2018

Food waste: a $22.5 bn opportunity for US retailers

Currently, around $270 billion worth of food is wasted each year in the US. This 63 million tons of food represents a $22.5 billion opportunity for grocery retailers according to ReFED, a multi-stakeholder non-profit organisation committed to reducing food waste. One can only assume that similar opportunities exist in Australia and New Zealand.

ReFED has partnered with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) to release the Retail Food Waste Action Guide to support grocery retailers in developing and implementing food waste reduction strategies. Major retailers such as Ahold Delhaize USA, Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Target, Wegmans, Walmart and Whole Foods all contributed to the guide, which presents a set of proven prevention, recovery and recycling solutions to help the industry prioritise and accelerate waste reduction activities.

Some highlights in the Retail Food Waste Action Guide include:

  • On average, the value of wasted food in retail is equal to roughly double the profits from food sales.
  • Prevention solutions such as dynamic pricing and markdowns have the highest profit potential.
  • Retailers can increase food donations to provide nearly 1.2 billion more meals.
  • New digital technologies such as ride-sharing platforms and chain-of-custody records are being applied to food waste through solutions like dynamic routing and cold chain management.
  • Low-cost solutions, such as standardised date labelling, already exist and are easy to implement.

“We’re seeing a major trend of retailers increasing focus on food waste,” explained Chris Cochran, executive director of ReFED. “What was once seen as a built-in cost of doing business is now viewed as a controllable expense and source of value. ReFED is partnering with retailers to put these waste solutions into action.”

ReFED works directly with food businesses, innovators, investors, foundations and policymakers to implement food waste solutions, setting a clear path to achieve the national goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.

For a direct link to the Retail Food Waste Action Guide, key insights and relevant infographics and resources, visit

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