Distribution & Retail

Food waste at distribution and retail

It is currently estimated that 200 million tons of food are wasted at the distribution and retail level globally each year. This means that 13% of all food wasted along the supply chain is lost at this stage alone. This represents an economic opportunity of $210 billion (BCG, 2018). Since food waste occurs for many different reasons across the supply chain, we decided to list the main causes at the supermarket and hospitality sector based on the literature, reports and other sources out there.


The main causes of food waste at distribution:

  • Lack of traceability and visibility across various stakeholders
  • Lack of data tracking systems or synchronised information channel
  • Rough handling during loading and unloading
  • Lack of temperature control and monitoring for time & temperature-sensitive items
  • Improper choice of containers, transportation mode or storage facilities


The main causes of food waste at retail:

  • Regular replenishment of stock and large product quantities on display
  • Inadequate package sizes to attract consumers
  • Demand unpredictability and challenges in demand forecasting
  • Overstocking in bulk and lack of storage facilities
  • Misinterpretation of the product’s shelf life
  • Outdated promotional, damaged, and unpopular items
  • Availability of ready-made fresh food


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