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Reducing Food Waste

A diet of waste reduction for a global food company.

. Finding ways to minimize food waste offers benefits to society and the environment in terms of increased food security as well as decreased land use and resource consumption (e.g., water, energy, and fertilizer). At the same time, it has the potential to offer food producers significant economic benefits by allowing them to monetize more of the foodstuffs that flow through their—and their suppliers—value chains. A leading global food company asked BCG to help them explore the possibility of playing a leadership role in reducing food waste globally.

Approximately 33% of all the food that is produced throughout the world ends up being wasted.

BCG developed a model to estimate how much food was wasted—and identified the 15 main drivers of that waste—across each step along the entire value chain from agricultural production through consumption. The company’s share of that waste was estimated and best practices were identified to mitigate it. Solutions included, for example, improving production planning, sharing best practices with suppliers, and developing new ways to sell surplus or lower-grade produce. Finally, BCG developed a strategy and business case for the firm to play a leadership role in waste reduction.

The initiatives identified had the potential to eliminate as much as 3 million tons of food waste and represented the opportunity to capture nearly 4 billion euros in incremental revenue for the company and its suppliers and its customers across the full value chain.

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