Royal A-ware, together with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, investigated the extent and cause of food waste in its cheese production chain. "We’d like to keep the impact of our activities, on the Earth, as small as possible, by designing our processes as efficiently as possible", says Corine Kroft, Manager CSR and Corporate Communication at Royal A-ware’s family-run business.
"For us, quality is much more than beautiful cheese. We believe an efficiently-designed cheese-production chain and minimised waste are just as important and require continuous attention.
With this philosophy in mind we participated in the CARVE project (see box). Along with other companies, we tested new instruments and decision models for preventing and reducing food waste. This resulted in a hands-on toolbox that companies can apply in their own organizations and in their production chains.
Using this toolbox, last year under the supervision of Wageningen researchers, we inventoried the waste streams generated in producing our cheese. For every part of the chain we investigated which waste streams could be put to good use elsewhere. For example, when cutting cheese you are left with ‘ends’; these ‘ends’ turned out to be an excellent component of grated cheese.
Science and practice
It was quite a challenge to identify all our waste streams. A cheese is cut, sometimes into pieces, sometimes into slices, depending on the wishes of the customer. Fortunately, the researchers were able to switch between science and practice. They thought along with us around, for example, how to acquire reliable data on cheese losses during the production process, or when cutting products.
We always felt that we were making very little food waste in our cheese chain. Thanks to Wageningen Food & Biobased Research we are now able to substantiate this idea with reliable figures. We have also gained insight into the areas in which we can further improve ourselves.
At Royal A-ware we will never be ‘finished’ with this issue. We constantly measure our food waste and this contributes to the CSR Performance Ladder, which guides us. Every year we want to perform as least as good as the year before but, preferably, better.”