Waste flow efficiency in the organic chain

Reducing losses in the organic chain and developing a new type of partnership between Eosta, Udea and Ekoplaza to achieve a structural reduction of product losses within Eosta’s ‘Elastic Chain’. These are some of the results of this research project, which involved several pilots.

Simulation of shop losses

Loss modelling led to product-specific recommendations related to issues such as extending shelf life, stock presentation and changing the way consumers make their choices.

Demand fluctuation and shop losses

The Ekoplaza chain of outlets face losses in the categories (cold) meats & fish, dairy and eggs where there is a small but positive relationship between the demand fluctuation and loss percentage of a product-shop combination. A high demand fluctuation rarely goes hand in hand with low loss percentages, while high loss percentages also occur when the demand fluctuation is low.

There are other factors that determine losses, including aspects such as the length of the use-by date code on the product. The minimal order amount of the product and the extent to which shop customers select the longest rather than the shortest use-by date from the shelves may also play a role. Losses in terms of numbers seem more or less independent of the turnover speed. This applies more to (cold) meats & fish than to dairy and eggs.

For many of the studied product-shop combinations, the average turnover speed was on the low side, which means that just a few write-offs can have a relatively major impact on the variation coefficient.

Elastic chain as new type of partnership

The ‘Elastic Chain’ pilot, which also involved project partners Udea/Ekoplaza and Eosta, tested on a small scale whether it was possible to establish a partnership structure that effectively contributes to a reduction in product losses in the fruit & vegetable chain. The intended result, a volume reduction of vegetable & fruit losses in Eosta’s distribution centre, was achieved. Eosta and Udea both indicated that they consider the project a success and aim to apply the partnership construction with other parties, including internationally.

Reducing losses due to deviating products

Food losses in the chain are unpreventable. Part of the production is left behind on the land or thrown out during the sorting process or at the shop. There is currently an increasing focus on food waste, however, with social enterprises such as Kromkommer (a wordplay meaning 'crooked cucumber') stimulating awareness among the population. In addition to the introduction of the so-called Buitenbeentjes (products that look different than the standard), there are initiatives that process and use those waste flows for products like soups and sauces. And there are many more options for processing waste flows such as sorted or sub-optimal products. The most efficient one is combining them in locations where many products come together, especially at rinsing and packaging companies.