Monday, April 16, 2018

Grocery Stores Get Mostly Mediocre Scores On Their Food Waste Efforts

Any dumpster diver can tell you: Grocery stores throw away a lot of food.

But food discarded off the shelf is just one way that grub gets trashed. There's other waste along a grocery store's supply chain —rejected crops at farms, for example — that's often overlooked. So The Center for Biological Diversity and The "Ugly" Fruit and Veg Campaignrecently asked the 10 largest U.S. supermarkets how they handle food waste, and gave each store's efforts a letter grade.

Scores for each store appeared in the report, "Supermarkets Fail to Make the Grade in Reducing Food Waste," released Monday. Letter grades took three overarching categories into account: how much public information a store shared about food waste, what it was doing to prevent food waste, and where its discarded food went.

No store got an A.

Walmart ranked highest with a B. Kroger, Albertsons and Ahold Delhaize, the parent company that owns Food Lion and Stop & Shop, all got Cs. Costco, Publix, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and Target all got Ds, and the German-based discount grocer ALDI got an F.

NPR asked Jordan Figueiredo, who runs the "Ugly" Fruit and Veg Campaign, a few questions about the report, and how stores could improve their approach to food waste. His answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Walmart got the best grade of the American stores you studied. What made it stand out?

Besides donating and composting a lot of discarded food, Walmart has worked to standardize its expiration labels into two categories: "Best if Used By" for nonperishable products, and "Use By" for food that can spoil. That matters because when different products have different labels — "sell by," "best by," "use by" — most people think, "Oh, it's bad after that date." Not everybody's going to do the sniff test.

Walmart has also paid attention to wasting less food in stores. Usually if one egg in a carton cracks, a grocery store will throw the whole thing out. Walmart found a way to replace those eggs and still sell most of the pack, which reduced millions of eggs being thrown out every year.

For other chains that scored lower, it's not necessarily that they're not trying to reduce food waste, it's that they're not reporting what they're doing. But if they're not reporting that data, then we have no idea how effective these programs are. And something that's just done here or there isn't really meaningful. - More, NPR

Grocery Stores Get Mostly Mediocre Scores On Their Food Waste Efforts


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