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Manish Nadir
11 Jul 2022

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 aims to achieve “zero hunger” by 2030. Unfortunately, the world is not on track – but perhaps we could be if companies at the heart of the food ecosystem, governments, and consumers took steps to reduce food waste.

According to research from WWF and Tesco, an estimated 2.5 billion tonnes of food goes uneaten around the world each year – food that would go a long way towards feeding the more than 800 million people globally who are malnourished.

Understanding the cause of this waste, as well as potential solutions, is the subject of Capgemini Research Institute’s recent report, Reflect, Rethink, Reconsider: Why food waste is everybody’s problem.

Our analysis reveals that while our global food situation is worrisome, there is some reason for hope: Consumer awareness of food waste has increased significantly since the pandemic due to shortages of essential commodities, increasing prices, and other socio-economic trends.

This increased level of consciousness is influencing behaviors across the purchase lifecycle. For example, we noticed a higher propensity amongst shoppers to buy visually imperfect produce at a lower price point. Likewise, our research shows a significant shift in the use of leftover food over several meals.

Our research also reveals a strong correlation between food waste-related initiatives and business benefits. Organizations were able to increase revenues, drive down costs and unlock new revenue streams by taking steps to reduce food waste.

That said, most organizations are focusing food wastage initiatives on upstream operations related to logistics, processing and packaging, as well as post-harvest handling. In fact, very few initiatives involve collaboration with partners outside the organization. To be truly effective, we believe food waste programs must be a concerted effort across the food value chain, involving all stakeholders within the larger food ecosystem, including agricultural producers, distributors, food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, federal and local agencies, food banks and consumers.

3 steps to reduce global food waste

The time is ripe for organizations to accelerate their fight against food waste. Based on the insights we have gleaned from our research, we suggest a three-pronged approach to fighting food waste, underpinned by technology.

Our research indicates that 64% of consumers believe growing more food is necessary to end world hunger, while a whopping 79% of consumers believe that the aviation industry has a higher carbon footprint than food waste. Bolstering consumer awareness is a much-needed first step in tackling this issue. Technology can be a force multiplier in both building awareness and encouraging waste-avoiding behaviour. Brands have the power to influence this shift and we are seeing some industry players lead the way to real change. For example, Kroger Chefbot is a smart recipe bot that uses visual AI and machine intelligence to recognize nearly 2000 ingredients and unlock thousands of recipes, helping families make the most out of the ingredients they have in their pantries before it goes to waste.

A significant portion of food – more than 1.5 billion tons to be exact – is lost in farms post-harvest, during processing, storage and distribution. More than 900 million tons are further wasted at retail and consumption stages. As such, the scale of this problem requires an ecosystem powerplay.

It’s time to look beyond short-term tactics and explore long-term strategies. Technology solutions like data driven demand forecasting, cold chain monitoring, early spoilage detection, dynamic pricing, automated order fulfilment, and others will drive widespread impact across the value chain. Establishing trust and transparency within the partner ecosystem, both upstream and downstream, through collaborative data exchange platforms will go a long way in stamping out food loss and food waste.

As the old adage goes, what you measure is what you get. A systems-based approach and tools to measure and monitor every step in the value chain will help in building awareness and inform our future strategies for food waste reduction. Leading organizations have leveraged the power of technology to manage food waste through measures that drive performance. When targets for food waste are defined, it’s imperative to also establish processes and governance for monitoring the progress, reasons for deviations, and course correction mechanisms.

While everyone has a role to play in minimizing food waste, organizations within the food ecosystem must lead the way for individual and collaborative action and provide the framework for a sustainable future. The question is: What role will your organization play in solving this critical issue and helping the world achieve ”zero hunger.”


Manish Nadir

Vice President, Global Lead for India Industry Platform – Consumer Products and Retail, Capgemini
Manish is a retail thought leader, who specializes in store operations, cross-channel commerce and industry-led innovation. Manish leverages his domain expertise and evolving technology landscape to create powerful value proposition for clients while building an enabling ecosystem of partners to help power a global innovation network. He joined Capgemini with experience leading the evolution of cognitive-first enterprise offerings for consumer businesses and multiple business transformation programs for some of the top global retailers.