According to new research by the Capgemini Research Institute, ‘consumer consciousness around food waste has more than doubled in the past two years’.
According to the report – ‘Reflect, Rethink, Reconsider’ – rising food prices, supply chain challenges, the pandemic and sustainability concerns have changed consumer behaviour. The Institute surveyed 10,000 consumers, as well as executives from 1,000 large organisations in food manufacturing and retail.
Today, 72 per cent of consumers are aware of their food wastage, compared to 33 per cent of consumers in 2020, Capgemini says. The report also recorded an 80 per cent ‘year-on-year growth’ in social media searches for methods to increase the life of food items.
The Institute states that this increased consideration for food waste is the direct result of cost savings (56 per cent), concerns about world hunger (52 per cent) and climate change (51 per cent).
Research also shows that 60 per cent of consumers feel ‘guilty’ about wasting food, yet ‘nearly 61 per cent of consumers want brands and retailers to do more to help them tackle food waste’. 57 per cent are also disappointed as they feel that businesses don’t care enough about the issue.
Consumers are reportedly dissatisfied with the action currently taken by organisations to tackle food waste, such as offering advice on keeping leftovers. Despite 60 per cent of organisations saying they provide clarity on terms like ‘best before’, ‘consume by’ and ‘expiry date’, 61 per cent of consumers believe that this is enough.
According to Capgemini, consumers want organisations to do more – such as providing customers with ‘digital labels (QR codes, etc.)’ that offer more transparency on the product’s journey and quality.
Consumers feel left to their own devices in terms of reducing food waste, the report highlights. When trying to increase food longevity at home, 67 per cent go to third-party sources for information (friends, family, influencers, and social media), with only 33 per cent getting information from packaging, commercials or campaigns run by food manufacturers and retailers.
Consumer education and support
Due to increased consumer awareness of food waste, the Institute’s report urges food retailers and manufacturers to ‘take action’ and gain consumer confidence.
Capgemini found that 91 per cent of consumers are willing to buy from brands and retailers that disclose information on their food waste, while 58 per cent will increase their spend with companies taking active steps to manage food waste.
A ‘fragmented food chain’
The report also highlights how the production and distribution stages contribute to food waste, with the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) reporting that “over 15 per cent of food is lost before leaving the farm”.
Despite 77 per cent of organisations claiming to have committed to the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals – to reduce food losses along production and supply chains – only 15 per cent say they have achieved this goal, or are on track to meet their targets.
According to Capgemini, 44 per cent of food retailers and 50 per cent of manufacturers focus on reducing food waste in upstream logistics. In comparison, only 22 per cent of retailers and 23 per cent of manufacturers pay the same attention to agricultural production. In terms of downstream storage – only 18 per cent of retailers and 21 per cent manufacturers maintain this focus.
Technology as a solution
To ‘help accelerate the fight against food waste’, the report recommends a three-pronged approach, backed by technology:
- Engage consumers and employees in food waste management initiatives
- Collaborate across the value chain
- Set, monitor, and report food waste-related metrics
Tim Bridges, Global Sector Lead, Consumer Products, Retail and Distribution at Capgemini, said: “The increased awareness amongst consumers and the initiatives being taken by businesses to tackle food waste is a positive step forward.
“With the help of technology, organisations can track and assess food waste at every stage of the food value chain to enable action at the right time, while also engaging with their consumers by inculcating waste avoiding behaviours and making them an active participant in waste reduction.
“An agile, intelligent supply chain can also enable an effective collaboration across the value chain to create a sustainable and future-ready ecosystem.”