Five highlights of our fight against food waste in 2020
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a third of food produced globally each year is wasted or lost. As the world’s leading meal kit provider, we want to provide a solution for this pressing global issue. Reduction and avoidance of food waste have always been at the core of our business model and we are constantly strengthening our ambitions in this area. From 2019 to 2020 alone, HelloFresh succeeded in reducing the amount of food waste from 3.6 gram to 2.2 grams per every meal. We donate as much of the food we cannot use as possible, and we do our best to divert inedible food from landfill or incineration. Over the course of 2020 we donated over 3.6 thousand tonnes of surplus food to organizations combating food insecurity. (Find out more in our Sustainability Report 2020.)
On top of our donations of surplus food, in 2020 we have ramped up our efforts to support communities threatend by food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
How did HelloFresh drive the reduction of food waste?
Purchasing based on real demand: Our lean, make-to-order business model inherently reduces food waste by pulling exactly the right quantities of ingredients based on consumer orders. Compared to the average generated by twelve leading food retailers globally, our operations generated 82% less food waste in 2020 (internal study, based on figures published by 12 leading traditional food retailers worldwide between 2018 and 2020). That is a significant improvement compared to 2019, when HelloFresh generated 66% less food waste than traditional retailers.
Consumer education: In addition to the progress made in our operations we are investing in helping our customers to prevent food waste in their homes by providing educational materials. Our Make It Right video series helps customers to be smart with leftovers, providing tips on how to make the most out of meals and avoid any food waste.
Donating unsold food: The share of food in the HelloFresh production process that doesn’t make it to our customers is small. We donate the majority of edible, unsold ingredients. Out of the nearly 5,000 tonnes of surplus food from our operations in 2020, we donated 73 % to charitable organizations across our local markets, directly benefiting people who face food insecurity. These charities include, for example, Table of Table in the United States, the Oxford Food Project in the United Kingdom, and Die Tafel in Germany. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we increased our food donations in all markets, with donations valued at over 13 million Euros given to charities in 2020.
Working with experts: Since food waste is a pressing global issue, HelloFresh teamed up with experts to research new solutions to reduce food waste. HelloFresh US became part of the expert network of ReFED, a multi-stakeholder non-profit committed to reducing food waste in the United States. ReFED has identified several solutions through its “Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste”, which has revolutionized the way the industry looks at food waste. The newly released ReFED Insights Engine identifies the use of meal kits as the #2 way to reduce food waste.
Research projects: HelloFresh is participating in a four-year research consortium on food waste led by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands. The project focuses on consumer and retail concepts and aims to achieve a shift from having extensive food waste to a minimal amount of waste. In a first experiment, we tested the shelf-life indicator Keep-it®. The smart sensor technology of Keep-it® constantly monitors a product's temperature over time and shows the actual remaining shelf life. Our partner WUR and the NGO Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling (Together against Food Waste) initiated a national discussion whether the indicator can be used to complement the classic expiration date system. Right now, results of the Keep-it experiment are under review by several government ministries in the Netherlands.Together with the Wuppertal Institute in Germany we conducted the world’s so far largest study on household food waste. Across six international markets the study revealed that, with HelloFresh dinners, customers waste 21% less food compared to meals cooked with ingredients bought at traditional grocers.
Together with Wageningen University we tested the shelf life indicator “Keep-it”, which will help to prevent food waste.
What are our plans for the future?
In order to keep fighting food waste, HelloFresh set a group wide environmental target: Reducing food waste to landfill and incineration per euro revenue by 50 % from 2019 to 2022.
“Our goal is to reduce food waste in our operations to nearly zero. And I am proud that we are getting closer to this goal year by year,” sums up Jeff Yorzyk, Director of Sustainability, HelloFresh US. “With our new target we have built the necessary framework for significantly improving our results.”