by Greg Kishbaugh
The supply chain is a complicated manufacturing, marketing and distribution network that requires each individual segment, such as package printing, to fit seemlessly into the greater whole.
One great challenge facing modern society that undoubtedly requires the cooperation of the entire chain is the need to reduce food waste.
Nearly 133 million pounds of food ends up in landfills each year in the United States alone, according to the USDA. In a recent discussion with FoodOnline, Meghan Statz, Senior Director of Sustainability at the Grocery Manufacturers Association shared her thoughts on what can be done to reduce or eliminate food waste in manufacturing facilities and in the supply chain in general.
Statz refers to food waste as a “triple bottom line issue,” which essentially means that there are business, environmental and social benefits to reducing food waste. Naturally, from a business standpoint, waste represents inefficiency. Any time waste can be associated with a manufacturing process, the system needs to be evaluated further. More waste equals less revenue.
From the viewpoint of the environment, wasted food represents more than the food itself; all the natural resources associated with growing the food, such as water, are wasted, as well.
The social aspect is revealed when considering that one in six Americans struggles with food insecurity. Every pound of wasted food that ends up in a landfill, with a more tightly controlled supply chain, could instead be used to fight families battling hunger.
Like all waste found in the manufacturing process, the only way to fight food waste is by first measuring it. The Food Waste Reduction Alliance performs annual audits and also tips from companies that have performed their own internal audits.
The FWRA stresses that food waste happens all along the supply chain and no one sector can solve this challenge on their own. Manufacturing, packaging, retail and restaurants must all find a way in which to collaborate to ensure future success.