New Data Shows Supply Chain Issues Are Increasing Food Waste In The UK

According to a press release issued by the Paris-headquartered food service and facilities management company Sodexo, 60% of U.K. food buyers are reporting an increase of food waste over the past six months as they grapple with supply chain issues. Over a third of the U.K.'s largest food buyers are increasingly turning to small and mid-sized suppliers to diversify their supply chain, with 35% increasing their domestic purchases. Because of these shifts, 83% of businesses surveyed believe that their supply chain is more resilient than pre-pandemic. However, the company reports, this resilience has come at a cost, with 35% of food buyers less concerned about waste.

The U.K.-based climate action Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) and Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), worked with the United Nations on a landmark report released in 2021 that showed an eye-opening 931 million tonnes of food being thrown away annually worldwide between the private and public sectors. The organization points out that not only is this a staggering amount of uneaten food when malnutrition impacts 690 million people across the globe, but it also adds to the increasing environmental load on the planet (via WRAP).

Increase in food waste due to supply chain issues

With over 50% of the world's habitable land used for agriculture, the detrimental environmental effects of crop and livestock cultivation are for naught when food is thrown away, WRAP points out. The results of their 2021 study launched the UN's sustainable consumption and production goal, which committed to reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. Sodexo was one of the companies to partner with WRAP for their Courtauld 2030 initiative, a voluntary agreement made in response to the study across the UK food chain to reduce food waste and tackle the supply chain's other environmental impacts (via WRAP).

While it appears that food waste management is an industry poised for growth, with supply chain disruption, rising costs due to inflation, and labor shortages, the strain the UK's food sector blunts the urgency of curbing food waste. Keith James, WRAP's head of policy and Insights, stated in a press release put out by Sodexo, "Sodexo's findings relating to a rise in self-reported food waste are worrying, but not unexpected given the pressures put on supply chains in recent years."