Fighting Food Waste: How HelloFresh helps tackle a global issue
Did you know that, according to the UN Environment Programme, approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food get lost or wasted every year. This is a significant waste of resources that contributes to food insecurity around the world.
On this special day, we would like to take the opportunity to speak out on a matter of global importance. Putting a halt to food waste by making food supply and consumption more sustainable is an integral part of our business model. Our approach is in line with the third target of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12: “By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.”
Identifying food waste sources
At HelloFresh, we measure and fight food waste on two different levels:
In our production facilities in 2020, less than 1% of all purchased ingredients go to waste. Our weekly dynamic forecasting system minimizes overordering by applying modern machine-learning techniques that continuously improve forecasting accuracy and minimize food waste. These systems integrate procurement with menu planning, order fulfillment, and customer care feedback, in order to maximize efficiency throughout the supply chain.
Only 2.2 grams of food per every meal we sell is wasted in our facilities and our operations generated 82%* less food waste than traditional food retailers.
Our customers’ homes
In order to fully understand the amount of food waste from a HelloFresh meal, we needed to better understand our customers’ cooking and shopping behaviour. Together with HelloFresh, leading food waste researchers of the world developed a study which examined the amount of food customers wasted when they cooked with HelloFresh compared to conventional home cooking and provisioning. We also wanted to capture how much food is wasted at each stage, including from excess shopping, ingredients discarded during cooking, and the amount of food left over after meals. Nearly 1,000 customers in six countries reported on their experiences for one week using HelloFresh meal kits and one week following their own diet and shopping habits, with no meal kit support. Respondents were selected to reflect our global customer base. The study revealed that with a HelloFresh dinner, customers waste 21% less food compared to a meal cooked from scratch with ingredients bought at a traditional supermarket.
While inefficient supply chains are one root cause for food waste, there are many reasons for consumers to waste food at home as well. These include improper meal planning, poor ingredient storage, and misunderstanding the best-before date.
Our study also shows that the main reason people discard prepared food is because it is no longer visually appealing, closely followed by forgetting it was in the fridge and not having a chance to eat it. Although a 2018 study by the European Commission found evidence connecting misinterpretation of date marks with food waste, some people still consume expired food if it appears to be edible. Unprepared food, just like ready meals, is often only disposed of if it seems to have gone bad.
Why food waste produces unnecessary carbon emissions
Food waste is a major source of avoidable greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, around one third of food production goes to waste. This creates the equivalent of 4.4 giga-tons of carbon emissions annually, or 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world. HelloFresh is committed to fighting food waste, as both a matter of climate justice and social justice.
Meal kits: less food waste, less carbon emissions
Reducing food waste is a key element of HelloFresh's sustainability strategy. Our lean, make-to-order business model pulls exactly the right quantities from the supply chain based on consumer orders, rather than estimating demand and wasting unsold stock. This prevents over-purchasing and creates much lower levels of waste than traditional food retailers. Once HelloFresh meal kits reach customers’ homes, the pre-portioned ingredients fit the recipes precisely, minimising leftovers and food waste. We continue to work closely with our suppliers to minimize inefficiency in their operations. Our goal is to reduce food waste in our operations to nearly zero.
With 254 million meals delivered to customers in 15 countries worldwide in the second quarter of this year alone, we made an important contribution towards fighting food waste and climate change. We welcome the fact that this topic is becoming more and more visible to people.