Pick n Pay has asked 20 of its biggest suppliers to join the company in a new global project to combat food waste. Backed by 10 of the world’s largest food retailers and manufacturers, the initiative will focus on in-store and supply chain food loss and waste.
In the first phase of the initiative, named 10X20X30, 10 of the largest global retailers, including familiar names such as Carrefour, Tesco, Walmart and Ahold, are working to reduce in-store food waste. Crucially, Pick n Pay and the other signatories have committed to supporting their upstream suppliers to reduce their own loss and waste.
“As part of our commitment, we have asked 20 of our biggest suppliers to help us reduce food waste. We are eliciting their support and commitment to reduce waste in production and in the supply chain, and to better share information with us. I am calling on them to partner with us in this incredibly exciting initiative to help build a more sustainable world,” Pick n Pay Chairman Gareth Ackerman said.
This private-sector commitment is designed to be a significant step toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3, which calls for a 50% reduction in food loss and waste by 2030 worldwide.
“Reducing food waste is a global imperative, but it has added importance and urgency in Africa generally and in South Africa particularly,” Ackerman said, citing statistics that 13 million South Africans routinely experience hunger while 28% of South Africans are classified as obese, mostly from poor nutrition. “This, while estimates put food waste in South Africa at the equivalent of 40% of total food production, worth around R100-billion a year or about 2% of our GDP.”
“Reducing food waste is a strong focus for Pick n Pay,” Ackerman said. “In 2015, we set goals to deliver significant shifts in waste reduction. This includes diverting 20% of our food waste from going to landfill.”
“We are getting more accurate in our procurement and replenishment, and we are steadily reducing the amount of food which goes to waste in our stores. Any food that has passed its sell-by date, but not its expiry date, is donated,” Ackerman said. “Our donation of more than 1,600 tonnes of food every year to NGOs reduces our carbon footprint by more than 5,000 tonnes each year.”
According to Ackerman, Pick n Pay aims to reduce food waste by 50% by 2025, “edging ahead of the global target by five years”. This is a very ambitious goal, Ackerman conceded, but “a genuine call to arms”, with tremendous potential.