As food waste hits the business agenda, manufacturing should be a priority as a profitable waste reduction target, says InfinityQS

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Champions 12.3, an international coalition dedicated to moving the world towards halving the amount of global food waste by 2030, has released research demonstrating how organisations can save $14 (approximately £12) for every $1 (approximately 80p) invested in reducing food waste.

Analysing data from 1,200 business sites belonging to 700 diverse organisations from across the food supply chain, Champions 12.3 found that half of these had achieved at least a 14:1 return of investment (ROI) from food waste reduction measures. 99 per cent of the sites achieved a positive ROI. These sites included manufacturing facilities, retail outlets, and other areas where food is produced, processed, and sold by an organisation.

According to WRAP, a British organisation dedicated to resource sustainability, manufacturing accounts for a large amount of easily preventable food wastage in the British food supply chain. The manufacturing process wastes 0.9 million tonnes of food annually in the UK, worth £1.2 billion – over twice the amount wasted on the retail side, both financially and in terms of sheer mass. Contrary to the view sometimes expressed in manufacturing organisations that food waste is inevitable, all of this waste has been identified by WRAP as being easily avoidable.

According to quality management software firm InfinityQS, this makes manufacturing a good starting point for businesses looking to save money and reduce harm to the environment.

David Gurr, Account Manager at InfinityQS, commented on the research and its implications: "The moral imperative for reducing food waste is clear: a billion people go to bed hungry every night whilst a third of the food produced globally is wasted. However, there has never been such a transparent demonstration of how this issue belongs on the CFO's, and indeed the CEO's, agenda – there are serious savings to be made here, and WRAP have identified manufacturing process as a smart place to start making a high impact.

"During the manufacturing process, food waste often occurs due to errors which result in food products not meeting the required specifications, and therefore being rendered unfit for purpose. Contamination can also taint food product, making it unusable. Between these and other manufacturing errors, the manufacturing process creates 0.9 million tonnes of unnecessary food waste every year.

"Manufacturers can prevent this expensive and damaging waste of food resources by ensuring they have the right measures in place to guarantee the quality of their product at each stage of the production process. It is also key to be able to identify and isolate incidences of error when they do occur – for example, if a manufacturer can identify which specific batch of food was contaminated by an error, it doesn't need to recall a whole product line.

"As organisations come under more scrutiny for their sustainability credentials, it pays both financially and ethically to work out ways to reduce food waste. Reducing waste in manufacturing by implementing sophisticated quality management processes is an impactful place to start."

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