5 Ways Grocery Retailers Can Reduce Food Waste in 2021

5 Ways Grocery Retailers Can Reduce Food Waste in 2021

Mar 9, 2021 10:19:00 AM

Retail | Operations

Every year, roughly one third of the food produced for human consumption goes to waste. That’s 1.3 billion tonnes of perfectly good food, wasted.

This is a difficult situation for grocery retailers. Shoppers expect to see a high volume and varied selection of products on shelves, even more so these days, when a trip to the grocery store is the most exciting thing we do all week. 

If supermarkets don’t overstock with absolutely everything and anything a shopper might want, they’ll lose out to a competitor.

But with public concern for the climate crisis growing, consumers are waking up to the reality of food waste and how their shopping habits are exacerbating the problem.

Grocery retailers can - and should - make meaningful changes to help limit food waste. Here are just a few of the initiatives they can put in place to do their bit for the planet.

Implement expiration date tracking technology

One of the major causes of food waste at store level is unsold products being thrown out because they’ve passed their expiration date.

Expiration date tracking technology eliminates this problem. Automating the manual checking of expiration dates not only saves valuable time, but also allows stores to discount soon-to-expire products so that nothing goes to waste and they get a little extra revenue into the bargain.

And as grocery retailers doing so much more with less time and resources these days, this kind of technology will be a major help to overwhelmed store teams with a lot on their plates!

Related Download : A Guide to Improving Supermarket Operational Efficiency

Guide to Improving Supermarket Operational Efficiency Ebook

Train store employees on food waste issues

Store team training should of course be a high priority for retailers on all fronts. But the urgency of the climate crisis makes it all the more important to ensure that your teams are up to scratch on their food waste knowledge.

Incorporating specific courses on food waste into your training program will heighten employee awareness on the issue and encourage them to do their part in fixing it.

Improve transparency and agility within your supply chain

Food waste is an issue that spans the entire supply chain, from the farm to the consumer.

Better communication and collaboration between stores and suppliers will inevitably reduce the amount of waste generated by stores, as it allows for greater flexibility on deliveries and last-minute order changes.

For example, one store might find that their candy bars are selling out too quickly, but the fresh vegetables just aren’t moving. If they have a good relationship with their supplier, they can adjust their order and make sure those veggies don’t go to waste, perhaps sending them to a different store instead.

Embrace “imperfect” produce

The most trivial reason for food waste in grocery retail is that a lot of fruit and vegetables that look a little weird or misshapen are discarded before they even get to the shop floor.

This is nonsensical for a number of reasons, not least because it means stores miss out on a lot of sales by throwing out perfectly good food.

And given the growing consumer concern around food waste, it seems that there is a market for ugly veggies. Some are already capitalizing on this - companies like Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market exclusively sell imperfect produce that cannot be sold to grocery stores.

UK supermarkets like Lidl and Morrisons are already launching “wonky veg” campaigns to put a positive spin on it. Market it in the right way, and you’ll have customers eating out of the palm of your hand.

Give back to the community

Redistributing unsold produce to food banks and hunger-relief charities is a great thing to do no matter what, but in a time of particular economic hardship for many, it will be especially appreciated.

What’s more, a 2020 survey by Accenture found that 60% of consumers were making more environmentally friendly and sustainable purchases since the start of the pandemic. All the more reason to use tech as a force for good to reduce food waste. 


YOOBIC’s expiration date tracking technology drastically reduces food waste in grocery stores. Watch this short video to find out how: