A lot of food gets wasted in the chain between production and the shopping basket. In the Netherlands, this costs €2.5 billion a year. The CARVE project (Across supply Chain Action program Reduction of food waste, improved Valorisation & resource Efficiency) was set up on the basis of a partnership between Alliantie Verduurzaming voedsel (Alliance for Sustainable Food) and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research in order to combat food waste in the agri-food chain.
Reducing food waste
Over two years ago, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs explicitly placed the combating of food waste in the agri-food chain on the agenda. The goal of the CARVE project is to increase the level of awareness at organisations in the agri-food chain and to develop inspiring solutions in collaboration with parties in the agri-food chain in order to reduce or prevent food waste.
Causes of waste in the agri-food chain
Every crop is different, which makes it difficult to match the size of the crop harvest with the order that is placed. Supply and demand are often inadequately harmonised, particularly in the case of products with a relatively short shelf life. In addition, research by Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has shown that excessively large portions at hospitals are another cause of food waste. The amount of waste can be reduced and money can be saved by adjusting the portion size of packaged products. In fact, there are several potential solutions in the various chains and the cost-savings which they generate could provide scope for investment. The CARVE project has developed a toolbox which companies can use to integrate the prevention and reduction of food waste as a goal within their business operations, organisation and supply chain. At present, companies’ sustainability departments are often left in charge of tackling waste. However, it is important for this topic to become a focus area in product development, procurement, production, sales, logistics and marketing too.