Definining a precise methodological framework to speak about food loss and waste

The diversity of food loss and waste (FLW) terminology is a barrier to quantifying food loss and waste in a standardised way. To address this issue, a methodological framework has been developed in FOODRUS. It includes the definitions of “food”, “edible food”, “inedible food”, “food loss” and “food waste” given by several literature sources, and a final consensus on each of them. In addition, the differences between “edible food” and “eatable food”, and between “digitisation” and “digitalisation” were noted, as it was detected that these are nuances that are not always considered in the scientific reference literature. In this framework, differences with the specifications of the Commission Delegated Decision (EU) 2019/1597 are also pointed out in order to favour a more objective quantification of food loss and waste.

Even when preventing food loss and waste is the ultimate goal, as is the case for FOODRUS, quantification alone is not enough. Therefore, in order to first identify the reasons why food is lost or wasted, a list of causes of food loss and waste generation has also been established as part of the framework. This standardised list was also extracted from the scientific literature (plus some proposals), and each of the causes was linked to the food value chain (FVC) actors who are responsible for it. The food value chain actors have also been classified in a standardised way according to the NACE codes.

Once the causes behind food loss and waste generation are known, prevention actions can be designed more effectively. Thus, a comprehensive list of destinations and solutions was built. They were allocated to the different levels of the food waste hierarchy described by WRAP: prevention, recycling, recovery, and disposal. The food value chain actors to which these destinations and solutions are applicable are also indicated, as well as the source of information (found in the literature, or proposed by FOODRUS).

FOODRUS Social Action Module: a tool to monitor the impact of different strategies to reduce Food Loss and Waste

Halving food loss and waste (FLW) at all stages from producer to consumer by 2030 is one of the main challenges of our century to move towards more sustainable and resilient food systems. Strong efforts are made at different scale (both at local and supply chain levels) promoted by the different stakeholders of the value chain. However, usually stakeholders don’t work together to define common goals and share responsibilities, or in other words, under a shared strategy that maximizes the impact of their actions. Moreover, there is not enough evidence about the impact of these actions to facilitate mutual learning and the transfer of the results and benefits to other regions.

By using the Social Action Module, the FOODRUS pilots can plan and monitor the set of actions carried out throughout the project life-cycle in a systematic and structured way. This tool aims to be a diary in which the stakeholders involved in the FOODRUS pilots can visualise the impact of the activities performed within the scope of the project in terms of  reduction of food loss and waste. The tool classifies the activities hierarchically into three different categories: strategies, actions and implementations:

  • Strategies are the main campaigns of food loss and waste reduction to be carried out, with general objectives to be achieved. They can be composed of several actions.
  • Actions are the action lines to achieve the specific objectives that will be developed in every strategy. They can involve different implementations.
  • Implementations are the steps or interventions required to achieve the action.

The tool allows the pilots to publish their results to facilitate their transferability to other regions. However, one of the main concerns of stakeholders is the sharing of confidential information. In order to prevent the dissemination of unauthorised information, the platform contains three privacy modes for sharing information from more to less restriction. Finally, the information is stored in a structured way that allows the subsequent assessment of the results and the identification of the main drivers that may convert a prevention strategy into a best practice.

The tool can be found here and public information will be available very soon from the FOODRUS pilots.

 

Discover the results of the FOODRUS digital maturity survey!

Digitization has proven to be a key tool for identifying and controlling processes to make the necessary decisions to minimize food waste generation. Therefore, the FOODRUS project developed a questionnaire to measure the level of digital maturity of the companies participating in the project. This survey measured 4 dimensions (Management, Resources, Processes and Measurement) in 8 processes (Demand Management, Product development, Purchase management, Manufacturing, Merchandising, Inventory Management, Customer relationship management and Reverse logistics). The analysis of the results, in addition to visualising the digital level of the company, made it possible to identify the risk of generating Food losses and Food waste according to the following reasons: Overproduction, Equipment defects and Logistic damages.

In total, seven questionnaires were received for the digital diagnosis of the supply chains of the participating companies. Two of them belong to the Danish pilot, three to the Slovak pilot, and two to the Spanish pilot. Each participant received an infographic report with its results and some recommendations according to the improvement areas.

The results show that the processes with the highest level of digitization are:

  • Inventory Management,
  • Commercialization, and
  • Purchase management.

On the other side, the processes with the lowest level of digitization are:

  • Inverse logistics and
  • Manufacturing.

Regarding the analysis from the perspective of the dimensions, Management is the one that presents the highest level of digitization, while the Measurement dimension appears to be at a weak level of development in almost all the processes of the supply chain.

The results are interesting for both the project partners and the external stakeholders as they show a picture of where the companies are in their journey towards being a “digitised company”, and where the risks are in the business model and business processes for the generation of food losses and food waste.

FOODRUS at the 36th EFFoST International Conference 2022 – Shaping the Production of Sustainable, Healthy Foods for the Future

FOODRUS participated in the 36th edition of the EFFoST International Conference, which took place in Dublin, Ireland, on the last 7-9 of November 2022.

Juan Angarita, Research Associate at the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain) and member of the FOODRUS project, delivered a presentation entitled “Collaborative Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Manufacturing in the Food Industry”.

In this presentation, the FOODRUS project presented new and collaborative Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods to tackle resource efficiency challenges (e.g., waste generation due to overproduction) imposed by the food industry, particularly its manufacturing stage. These innovative methods were developed using a co-creation methodology that involves several actors from the food industry, who actively participated in designing the most suitable AI tools that meet their needs and requirements.

Thus, this FOODRUS work improves the sustainability of demand forecasting and production by developing AI-based solutions that foster a shared vision among food value-chain actors. Such a shared vision allows effective coordination of heterogeneous actors to get the best of AI in dealing with food waste in demand forecasting and production processes.

Lastly, the FOODRUS project also participated, along with the other sister projects (FAIRCHAIN, PLOUTOS, COFRESH, LOWINFOOD), at a round table discussion moderated by Katherine Flynn, ISEKI-Food Association. This round table aimed to discuss how to encourage the implementation of innovations within the context of SMEs in the food industry.

 

The FOODRUS Spanish Pilot presented as a key project for the green transition at the Nexus event

The conference Nexus, Where Navarra meets Europe, organised by ADItech (coordination of the Navarrese R+D+I System, SINAI) with the support of the General Directorate for Foreign Action, had the objective of making visible and promoting the leap of Research, Development and Innovation activities from Navarre towards Europe. The FOODRUS project was one of the 22 initiatives presented, sixteen are currently developed by entities of the Foral Community.

More than a hundred people gathered on the 10th November to learn about the twenty-two European projects, sixteen of which are currently being developed by Navarre entities. “With this event we wanted to give visibility to the R+D+I that is already being developed in Navarre in the form of European projects to promote and encourage other entities to follow this example”, highlighted ADItech. The FOODRUS project was presented by AIN in the parallel session related to the green transition.

AIN focused the presentation of FOODRUS on the Spanish pilot, its aims, content and expected results. The Spanish pilot addresses the improvement of value chain of convenient salads, aiming to reduce the Food Losses and Food Wastes from the seed to the final consumers with 8 partners involved. The key actions include tracking surplus salads through digital tools, reducing food waste generation through social actions, and moving salads and organic waste up in the hierarchy through innovative solutions.

As part of the policy recommendations programme, the Spanish pilot has also sent contributions to the participatory processes related to the development of the new Spanish national law to fight against Food Waste as well as the Navarrese regional agenda to reduce Food Waste in Navarra 2022-2027.

Follow this link to watch a summary video of the event: https://youtu.be/nx0_xP4Y8gs

FOODRUS featured at ECOMONDO 2022

On 8 November 2022, FOODRUS took part in ECOMONDO, the world conference on circular economy and technological innovation. This was possible thanks to the kind invitation from the European Commission, who selected FOODRUS, together with other EU-funded projects, to be part of the EU stand.

With over 100,000 participants and more than 1,000 exhibitors, ECOMONDO is the reference event in Europe for the ecological transition and the circular and regenerative economy.

Being present at ECOMONDO, together with our sister project LOWINFOOD, was a great opportunity for FOODRUS, which allowed us to present our project to a wide number of citizens, companies, researchers and fellow EU projects.

Many thanks again to the European Commission for inviting us to be part of this fantastic event!

FOODRUS survey and upcoming workshops on inspiring solutions to improve our food systems

REGISTER NOW to the FOODRUS online workshop taking place on Monday 5th December 2022 (15:00-17:00 CET). Please find the agenda here and keep reading for more information! 

 

The Farm to Fork Strategy, heart of the European Green Deal, is pushing for accelerated actions leading to a transition into sustainable food systems which:

  • have a neutral or positive environmental impact;
  • help to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts;
  • reverse the loss of biodiversity;
  • ensure food security, nutrition and public health, making sure that everyone has access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, sustainable food;
  • preserve affordability of food while generating fairer economic returns, fostering competitiveness of the EU supply sector and promoting fair trade.

The FOODRUS project aims to identify opportunities for closing the loop along the food supply chains to: (1) prevent surplus food loss and waste and (2) valorise unavoidable side streams and/or surplus food from being lost or wasted. Solutions are many and involve multiple actors:

For this reason, we need multi-stakeholder involvement to identify current, emerging and future solutions that contribute to circular solutions for resilient food systems. The ‘planetary boundaries’ concept is at the heart of a resilience approach to sustainability and defines the safe operating space for humanity. For the moment, the global food systems are crossing those boundaries, which have consequences for global food security.

For these reasons, we need to look into the food systems activities from 1-4:

  1. natural resources use, inputs, food loss and markets associated to food production at the farm;
  2. to processing, manufacturing and packing and associated raw materials input needed for standards and storage requirements to be met, side streams and food loss;
  3. to distribution, via wholesale and retail sectors and associated surplus food loss and waste;
  4. to final processing and consumption at the HORECA and household sector and associated food waste.

We need to have a deeper look at activities occurring within and between each stage of the food supply chain, to identify solutions that creates resilience from farm to fork.

Therefore, we invite you to participate in our survey on inspiring solutions to improve our food systems! Click here to participate or scan the QR codes below:

 

SURVEY IN ENGLISH

 

 

 

SURVEY IN SPANISH

 

 

 

SURVEY IN SLOVAK

 

By filling out the survey your will automatically be invited to 8 workshops:

 

SAVE THE DATE

The first workshop will be held on 5 December 2022 (15:00-17:00 CET), with the participation as keynote speakers of Carina Dalager from Danish Standard and Valeria de Laurentiis from the European Commission (Joint Research Centre). To register, please click here.

For more information, please contact Marianne Thomsen, University of Copenhagen, mth@food.ku.dk.