Every second person throws away food once or twice a month: How innovative technologies can help to tackle this issue

Food loss and waste – in supply chains and by consumers – account for half of greenhouse gas emissions from food. Saving food from being wasted is not only crucial in order to tackle food insecurity across the globe, but also an important contributor to fight climate change.

As a pioneer in minimizing food waste, HelloFresh is continuously searching for ways to further decrease the amount of food being thrown away. While our pre-portioned ingredients substantially reduce household food waste by 38 percent in comparison to traditionally cooked dinners, we are committed to keep food going to landfill within our production to an absolute minimum. Our data-driven supply chain enables us to forecast the exact amount of ingredients needed weeks in advance and our efficient operations cut middlemen and cause less food waste across the entire value chain. At the same time we donate any surplus food from our production facilities to communities that we operate in and face food insecurity

HelloFresh employees packing food donations in the US.

Representative survey by HelloFresh shows: Every second person throws away 20 euros worth of food each month 

Generally, private households play a big role in contributing to food waste. They are responsible for around half of the food being wasted. HelloFresh recently conducted a representative survey across Germany, the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France among over 7.500 people and found that on average every second person throws away food at least once or twice a month worth around 20 euros. In a global comparison, the main concern why consumers throw away food past the expiration date is because they are afraid that the food past the expiration date might make them sick or could be bad for their health. But also the often misunderstood “Best Before” and “Use By” expiration dates are a reason for consumers to dispose of supposedly spoiled food: Every fifth person throws away food simply because they follow the date labeling on the packaging - regardless of the quality.  

The survey showed that consumers are quite aware of the contribution they can make: Around half of the respondents consider themselves fully responsible to reduce food waste. On average three quarters of the survey participants confirmed that they are more cautious of food waste since the beginning of the cost-of-living crisis and take active steps to reduce it. More than half of the survey participants think there is a need to educate consumers more about how to avoid food waste at home. 

But the survey participants also see the need for actions beyond their own contribution: More than a third of the survey participants say that the current food labeling system doesn’t contribute to avoiding food waste. The majority is open to a new food labeling system that helps tackle that problem. On average, three quarters of the people surveyed agree that policymakers are at least partly responsible for enabling change. 

Country breakdown: respondents who are at least somewhat open to a new food labeling system (in %)

HelloFresh advocates for dynamic food labeling to fight food waste

HelloFresh believes the innovative alternative solution of the time-temperature indicator (TTI) is key to addressing this change, and has therefore been closely collaborating with Keep-It®. In 2020 and 2021, HelloFresh tested Keep-It’s TTI solution amongst more than 3,000 HelloFresh customers in the Netherlands and Germany as part of a study in collaboration with Wageningen University and Thünen Institute. Time-temperature indicators show the shelf life of products in real-time, taking into account storage or temperature conditions. The study proved the label offers a 15% food waste reduction potential and is perceived positively among consumers. 

In 2020 and 2021 HelloFresh tested the innovative time temperature indicator with 3.000 customers. 

In order to be able to use the innovative TTI food labeling solution there is a need for regulatory change on the EU level. That’s why HelloFresh joined forces with other organizations including Keep-It®, Zebra Technologies and Wageningen University & Research to advocate for more innovation in the food industry. 

 “The EU is currently working to update date marking, but also each national member state as well as the UK can help by working on pilot projects, such as those already initiated in the Netherlands, to make use of the opportunity to make a change for smarter date coding that helps customers, the planet and companies as well,” says Tilman Eichstädt, COO Upstream at HelloFresh SE.

Besides this initiative, HelloFresh will continuously work on further minimizing food waste for its consumers and across the entire value chain. Find out more about our past milestones and our general sustainability approach in our latest non-financial report.

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