Lena Riesenegger | 23.02.2022

We are happy to announce that our latest research work in the area of retail food waste has been published by Sustainability. The article is open access and available at https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052494.

In recent years, the retail food industry’s handling of excess inventory has increasingly come into the spotlight of society, activists, and politics. The economic pressure of unsold products, the environmental impact of wasted resources, and the ethical questions arising from discarding edible food are an ongoing dilemma for grocery retailers, who constantly face a trade-off between increasing attractiveness via high availability on the one hand, and the environmental, social, and financial impacts of overstocks on the other. One common practice in dealing with overstock is mainly being reactive to mitigate the impact, using initiatives such as price promotions or donations.

Our research investigates options for how grocery retailers can proactively reduce food waste via better planning of their store operations. For this qualitative study we concentrated on highly perishable products and conducted interviews with seven case companies. Based on the analysis we formulated 15 propositions that could support the decisions of grocery retailers developing food waste reduction practices in six areas: (1) the use of a comprehensive database and information systems, (2) tailored demand forecasts, (3) enhanced planning of assortment sizes, (4) definitions of differentiated service levels, (5) tailored ordering and replenishment processes and (6) salvage options. The propositions will guide future research, as they provide a coherent and cohesive picture of related topics in grocery retail operations.

Riesenegger, L.; Hübner, A. Reducing Food Waste at Retail Stores—An Explorative Study. Sustainability 2022, 14, 2494. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052494