Food Value Chain Consultations
Processing, Manufacturing and Retail
Food Value Chain Consultations Workshop 3: processing, manufacturing, and retail
This workshop was the third of the 5 consultative workshops and comprised of representatives from private companies, civil society, governments, scientific and technical organisations, and the United Nations and other intergovernmental organisations. The key messages, the presentation from the workshop as well as the full list of participants is available in the workshop report.
A number of best practices and initiatives were shared during the workshop regarding the role of Processing, Manufacturing and Retail in working towards a more sustainable value chain.
Unilever's Sustainable Agricultural Code
Since 2000, Unilever's Sustainable Agricultural Code has committed to producing crops with high yield and nutritional quality to meet existing and future needs, while minimizing any adverse effects on soil fertility, water and air quality, and biodiversity. Moreover, it has focused on optimizing the use of renewable resources while minimizing the use of non-renewable resources. Finally, it has aimed to enable local communities to protect and improve their wellbeing and environment
This code focuses on practices around agriculture: crop and fertilisation management, pesticides management, soil management, water management… Unilever has now drafted regenerative agriculture principles, which beyond a sustainable agriculture approach into regenerative principles. They are moving away from the compliance-oriented approach into more of a proactive and encouraging approach.
Shoprite's approach to food loss and waste
Shoprite is the largest retailer operating in Africa. Their approach to food loss and waste is a hierarchical one. First, they attempt to reduce waste through their operations, such as by improving ordering, stockholding, product range, optimising current product lines.
In case of excess, they repurpose food in the stores or donate food to those in need. If this is not an option, surplus food will be used as animal feed. Finally, if all previous options are not viable, Shoprite will opt for industrial applications like composting and extraction of energy, the last resort being directing food and organic material onto landfills.
This structure gives an idea of how retailers can be more responsible in terms of handling surplus food and reduce food waste and loss.
Ellen MacArthur's Foundation approach to Food Design
Food design includes all decisions that impact what ingredients are used to make products and how those ingredients are grown to turn into final products. Some of the actions that can be taken when designing food products include creating food with diverse ingredients, growing regeneratively and using upcycled ingredients.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been applying this approach. For instance, in order to use upcycled ingredients, they are working on the production of sweetener by transforming the husk of the shells of cacao and the cherries from coffee beans. Rather than be wasted, these are transformed into an ingredient that provides the property of sweetness, while avoiding the need to expand into more land to produce things like sugar cane or sugar beet.
Consumer Goods Forum's Food Waste Coalition of Action
The Food Waste Coalition of Action is a group of highly engaged companies to take action on food loss waste, with the aim of halving it by 2030. It includes 21 leading consumer goods companies and manufacturers including Tesco, Kellogg’s and Unilever. They focus on member’s own operations and their supply chain.
Some of the coalition's objectives include providing the necessary resources to companies to be able to measure their food waste and report on it publicly. They also work to engage with growers and suppliers in sector-specific workshops to foster collaborative strategies and support on-farm food loss measurement and reduction.