A holistic approach to achieving net zero and supply chain resilience

Published on : 11/29/22
  • With food waste a significant contributor to climate change, the situation has been made worse by recent supply chain challenges, which have resulted in a dramatic increase in food waste. As part of our Appetite for Action Campaign, Sodexo has explored how this unprecedented pressure on supply chains has put at risk the UK’s net zero ambitions.

    Sodexo’s independent research amongst food buyers in the UK’s biggest organisations found there had been a 60% increase in food waste in these organisations in the first half of 2022. Such an unsustainable increase must be fully understood and addressed if we are to achieve the UK’s net zero goals.  

    This was a point echoed by David Edwards, Director of Food Strategy at WWF-UK, during Sodexo’s Appetite for Action Webinar: “If we’re wasting 40% of the food we produce, we’re fighting against climate change with our hands tied behind our backs.”   

    As food buyers across the UK navigate inflation, labour shortages and the Ukraine-Russia war, Sodexo believes it’s important to discuss how supply chains can be managed with the environment and society in mind, ensuring that the focus on delivery of food shouldn’t mean the deprioritisation of climate targets. We simply cannot afford to be myopic on climate change. 

    Promoting best practice and creating supply chain resilience 

    Sodexo’s research revealed 82% of food buyers believe the current supply chain crisis has highlighted the need to source more from SMEs. As smaller, more flexible operators, they are ideally placed to deliver flexibility within the supply chain, and indeed three quarters of Sodexo’s supply chain is comprised of SMEs and social enterprises, providing welcome resilience. 

    One of those SMEs is Watts Farm, a family-run farm, which believes delivering seasonal produce is a potential solution to food waste. During Sodexo’s webinar Ed Gray, Director of Watts Farm, said: “In a changing world, seasonal produce and sourcing seasonally is always going to be the best strategy…from a pricing perspective and food security perspective as well.” 

    Another SME that Sodexo works with is E. Park & Sons, one of the UK’s few remaining family-owned potato businesses. They are committed to understanding the link between food waste and supply chain resilience, with their wide-ranging customer base allowing them to use every part of the crops their farmers grow.  

    Sodexo recently took David Rutley MP, E. Park & Sons’ constituency MP, to their site in Macclesfield, to discuss the importance of building sustainability and resilience into their business. 

    Working with Sodexo, they are committed to continuing to deliver sustainability initiatives, through recycling water, generating 25% of their own energy through solar panels, and the reduction of plastic packs by 20 tonnes per year and cardboard by 100 tonnes per year. 

    Following the visit, David Rutley MP said,

    We must continue to increase awareness of the link between reducing food waste and delivering our wider climate goals, and I was delighted to see this work in action at E. Park & Sons, and the role Sodexo has played in highlighting its importance through their ongoing Appetite for Action Campaign.

    Creating a framework to achieve food waste reduction 

    There is a clear link between food waste and supply chain resilience – you cannot reduce one without achieving the other.  

    Yet, there is still a lack of awareness of how much food is still wasted, preventing the progress we need to see. Jen Emerton, Head of Account Management at WRAP, picked up on this lack of awareness during Sodexo’s webinar: “Quite a few businesses think they have minimal food waste and when prompted would probably guess about 5% when in fact it can be as high as 50%”. 

    Sodexo’s own research shows that 60% of food suppliers say food waste has increased in the first half of this year and the first step to cut food waste is to track and monitor it. We welcomed the UK Government’s decision to consult on mandatory food waste reporting, which Sodexo has been calling for as a recommendation from our Appetite for Action campaign.  

    Food waste reduction must be embraced across the food system, and there is an urgent need for the UK Government to provide a strong regulatory framework to do so. By providing clear guidelines for quantifying, tracking and reporting food waste, through a dedicated food waste reduction strategy, the UK Government can help to mobilise the sector to be ambitious and do more to tackle food waste. 

    Find out more about our Appetite for Action campaign