Retail Food Wastage: Concerns and Strategy to curb it

  There is analytic suggesting that about 30% of food grown in the world is wasted. That accounts to loss of the same amount of farm inputs and environmental resources like a third of available fresh water and top soil is wasted as well. In developed countries the food wastage statistics shows a whopping 50%. Hence almost half of the food produced never makes it to the dining table of the consumer of the most advanced economies. Lest this increases the cost of production, this phenomenon not only burdens the consumer wallet but also proves deleterious to the future generations to come, by depleting the natural resources faster. These statistics are a wake-up call for the world filled with price fluctuations, hunger and social unrest.

Our routine practices of wasting the extra food or ignoring those ugly veggies fail to conceptualize the implication globally. As consumers, we can stand up for ‘waste-not’ culture by buying only what is usable and cooking only the amount that is edible. We can always resort to sharing food among others with limited means if it still amounts to miscalculation.

However, retail grocers, their packers and suppliers have a larger role to play.

The responsibility of the grower completes when the farm produce is ready with a predefined quality. The suppliers and packers need to grade the farm produce and segregate them while packing. This eliminates the possible delay in retail sale and discards due to uneven units of the packaged product. For all we know, one small orange among the packaged large oranges is likely to be delayed in consumption.

Marketing plays a prominent role in making the consumers choose all the farm produce on the retail shelves. The fruits and vegetables with ugly shapes can always grab the attention by an outstanding plaque that could read “Eat the entire harvest” or “Misfits are culinary eccentrics”. Few last bunches of cilantro can have the word “Pick us soon”. Attractive packaging also helps for a faster selling. The retailers need to come up with likely innovative call out strategies to divert the attention of consumers towards abandoned farm products. Discount pricing strategy over the unsold food products can make a difference in their sales. Revise prices when a product stays on shelf longer than expected. While consumers are happy about the price of the product, it reduces wastage of food because of obsolescence in stores.

These measures will contribute positively for ugly veggies and fruits or abandoned farm produce in accentuating “Strange but lovable” theme in retail stores and help in timely selling of farm stock.

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