Food Sustainability and Food Waste - European Executive Summary

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Food Sustainability and Food Waste - European Executive Summary

European food sustainability brands in Europe include Aplro, Veganz, Quorn, Beyond Meat, Cémoi, Can Packaging, Suntory, Feltwood, Tony’s Chocolonely, Zonnatura, Bel Portugal, Nestlé Portugal, and Belvas. Eaternity, Partage Foundation, Fiksuruoka, and ResQ are European companies who have created initiatives to combat food sustainability. Every year, around 88 million tons of food is wasted in the European Union, this accounts for about a 16% loss annually. In Europe, 83% of consumers would like to reduce the food waste by only purchasing what they need. In a European survey, 86% of respondents estimated they wasted 15% of the food the purchased, which is in line with the 16% reported food waste for the region.

European Brands and Food Sustainability

  • European food sustainability brands in Europe include Aplro, Veganz, Quorn, Beyond Meat, Cémoi, Can Packaging, Suntory, Feltwood, Tony’s Chocolonely, Zonnatura, Bel Portugal, Nestlé Portugal, and Belvas.
  • Aplro is highly regarded brand for food sustainability in Germany, and Belgium. Cémoi, Tony’s Chocolonely, and Belvas are chocolate brands focused on fair trade production and sustainability. Tony's Chocolonely is focused on producing and selling chocolate while closely following fair trade practices, strongly opposing slave labor and child labor, and sourcing cocoa from sustainable sources.
  • Veganz, Quorn, and Beyond Meat are meat substitute and vegan brands popular in Europe. Quorn is the best-known meat-free brand in the UK. 1 in 4 people eat it regularly and it has a record of providing delicious products that mimic consumers' favorite foods, helping them adopt meat-free diets. Beyond Meat makes meat from plants and the brand entered the UK market in 2018 through a partnership with Authentic Food Co.
  • According to an article published in the European Supermarket Magazine, a survey conducted by Havas Media Group revealed Nestlé to be among the top ten favorite consumer brands in Portugal. The company is actively striving to reach its goal of having zero environmental impact on its operations.
  • In 2019, Bel announced a new business model that was designed to transform the company’s identity and bring more focus into sustainable food and practices. With the new model, Bel is committing to “championing healthier and responsible food for all”.
  • Suntory is among the top companies in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages' industry globally. The company indicated that its values include growing for good, giving back to society by protecting water resources, and nurturing communities.
  • Feltwood, and Can Packaging are sustainable container brands with a strong reputation and following in Europe. Feltwood's vision indicates that the company seeks to become a brand in the generation of new technologies for the development of environmentally friendly biodegradable materials. The company highlighted that it contributes to economic development by turning waste materials into valuable materials that are biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable.
  • Eaternity, Partage Foundation, Fiksuruoka, and ResQ are European companies who have created initiatives to combat food sustainability.
  • Fiksuruoka means Smart Food in Finnish. The company reduces food wastage by buying clearance and remainder goods from producers and importers and selling them to consumers more cheaply. Fiksuruoka's tagline is in Finnish, and none of its primary content is in English. Its tagline translates to "More Discounts. Less waste."
  • Eaternity is an organization developing a solution for the food industry to measure exactly and efficiently the environmental footprint of food products. The company is based in Zurich, Switzerland. At Eaternity they are convinced that they can reduce climate-threatening greenhouse gas emissions by half.

Germany

  • Two of the most successful food sustainability brands in Germany are Alpro and Veganz. When it comes to vegan product development, Germany is the global leader.
  •  Alpro is doing very well in the German market since its marketing strategy is focused on digital campaigns. Its website has 70.92% of traffic coming from search, and 24.24% of its traffic comes from direct marketing.  The company's tagline is Du Bist Schon Süss Genug (meaning You Are Cute Enough).
  • Veganz was founded in Berlin, in 2011, and it “became the first vegan supermarket chain in Europe.” Very soon, it broke into the vegan niche and managed to have 120 products over 18,000 stores in 28 countries. Veganz is also doing very well in the market.

United Kingdom

  • Two successful food sustainability brands in the UK are Quorn and Beyond Meat.
  • Quorn is a meat substitute product that originated in the UK and is sold as a cooking ingredient and meat substitute used in several prepackaged meals.  Behind the scenes, Quorn works to minimize environmental impact by making the operations as efficient as possible. Quorn Mince uses "90% less land and produces 90% fewer carbon emissions than beef."
  • Quorn's tagline is "helping the planet one bite at a time." Quorn is the best-known meat-free brand in the UK. 1 in 4 people eat it regularly and it has a record of providing delicious products that mimic consumers' favorite foods, helping them adopt meat-free diets.
  • Beyond Meat makes meat from plants and the brand entered the UK market in 2018 through a partnership with Authentic Food Co. A study done on Beyond Meat's products revealed that a Beyond burger generates 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, needs 46% less energy, has 99% less impact on water loss, and 93% less impact on the use of land compared to a quarter pound of beef.
  • Among the new plant-based meat brands in the UK (which excludes Quorn), consumers have in most cases tried Beyond Meat (23%), according to a survey. This figure is set to keep increasing as the brand continues to introduce new products into the market (like the collaboration with McDonald's). Beyond Meat's tagline, "Go Beyond."

Switzerland

  • The two companies identified for Switzerland work with food brands, and restaurants to reduce their environmental impact.
  • Eaternity is an organization developing a solution for the food industry to measure exactly and efficiently the environmental footprint of food products. The company is based in Zurich, Switzerland. At Eaternity they are convinced that they can reduce climate-threatening greenhouse gas emissions by half.
  • Eaternity's tagline is "App'etite for change". Eaternity was selected because it has over 100 restaurants in Switzerland participating in its sustainability goals. They also have more than 8,000 markets with scored products.
  • Created in 2005 by L’Armée du Salut, Le C.A.R.E., Caritas Genève, les Colis du Cœur et Emmaüs, the Partage Foundation has since become the main food bank in the canton of Geneva. With a mission to collect and sort unsold produce from shops and food companies in Geneva, and redistribute it for free to social associations and services that support feeding people.
  • Through its actions, Partage fights to reduce food waste, support professional reintegration and act in favor of the environment by using eco-friendly transportation. Partage's tagline is "La banque alimentaire genevoise".

Scandinavia

  • Fiksuruoka and ResQ are successful examples of food sustainability brands in Finland. Consumers in Finland are open to brands associated with food sustainability, as evidenced by the large number of Facebook followers the companies' have, their revenue, and their number of customers.
  • Fiksuruoka means Smart Food in Finnish. The company reduces food wastage by buying clearance and remainder goods from producers and importers and selling them to consumers more cheaply. Fiksuruoka's tagline is in Finnish, and none of its primary content is in English. Its tagline translates to "More Discounts. Less waste."
  • The company has experienced unprecedented growth during the Covid-19 pandemic. Its CEO, Juhani Järvensivu, claims that they have never been so busy.  The company has over 100,000 customers. It also has 46,934 followers and 46,313 likes on Facebook.
  • ResQ addresses the food wastage problem by reducing food waste in restaurants, cafes, and groceries. The company uses an app to help consumers find food at a discount that would have otherwise been thrown away. Additionally, the company helps businesses to get rid of their surplus food and reduce food wastage.
  • The company's tagline is "Leave no meal behind." The tagline and primary content on the website are in English. The Finnish Financial journal, Talouselämä, chose ResQ as one of Finland's top 10 hottest startups. The Finnish people gave a 97% satisfaction rate on all orders facilitated by ResQ, indicating that they are open to brands associated with food sustainability.

France

  •  Cémoi and Can Packaging are two examples of food sustainability brands in France.
  • Cémoi is a leading chocolate brand in France, and is among the few brands, along with Cargill and Barry Callebaut that dominate the French grinding industry, which experienced an average annual growth rate of 1.1% between 2016 and 2019. The company is also among the largest sustainable end producers of chocolate in France.
  • Transparence Cacao, Cémoi's sustainability program, has so far sourced 30,795 tons of sustainable cocoa, trained over 21,784 cocoa planters, produces about 24% of aromatic cocoa that is adapted to its members’ needs and usages. Equally, the brand has over 15 community projects globally and has helped restore an estimated 1,425 hectares of land across the world.
  • The company’s tagline is in French and reads, “The French chocolatier.” The messaging on its entire website is in French; however, it provides translation into English.
  • Can packaging is a French-based, "privately owned designer and manufacturer of sustainable paper packaging and related manufacturing equipment, based in Habsheim (Eastern France)." The company was recently acquired by U.S.-based Sonoco, for an estimated €41.7 million.
  • The company’s tagline reads, "Boites rigides Greencan® 92 à 98% de carton," which translates to "Green Can® rigid boxes 92 to 98% cardboard." Can Packaging is a very popular brand in France with anticipated annual sales of about €23 million or $27 million in 2020. The company provides "sustainable paperboard packaging to a number of large consumer food brands distributed across Europe, where it has over 60 associates."

Spain

  •  Suntory and Feltwood successful examples of food sustainability brands in Spain.
  •  Suntory is among the top companies in both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages' industry globally. The company indicated that its values include growing for good, giving back to society by protecting water resources, and nurturing communities.
  •  Suntory was selected for this brief because it has diverse sustainability programs in Spain, its drinks are among the top brands in Spain, and the company's revenue is in billions of dollars. On January 22, 2019, Fortune ranked the company 4th in the World’s Most Admired Companies (Beverage Industry) ranking.
  • Feltwood's vision indicates that the company seeks to become a brand in the generation of new technologies for the development of environmentally friendly biodegradable materials. The company highlighted that it contributes to economic development by turning waste materials into valuable materials that are biodegradable, recyclable, and compostable.
  • The company was selected for this brief for various reasons: Euronews named it among the startups that are changing the food tech landscape in Spain, the company has so far attracted funding from 2 investors, and the company was the National Impact Tech Winner at the 2019 Entrepreneur XXI Awards. Feltwood's tagline is, "Double Positive Impact".

Netherlands

  • Tony’s Chocolonely has been voted by Dutch consumers as the most sustainable brand in Holland for the third time in a row. Tony's Chocolonely is focused on producing and selling chocolate while closely following fair trade practices, strongly opposing slave labor and child labor, and sourcing cocoa from sustainable sources.
  • The company's tagline is in English and reads, "Crazy about chocolate, serious about people."
  • With an annual turnover of €70 million, Tony’s Chocolonely is now the biggest chocolate brand in the Netherlands, with a market share of around 19% and growth of 27% compared to 2018. Its mission to make the Netherland chocolate industry free from slave work draws attention to the brand and makes it a sympathetic brand that is hard to dislike.
  • Zonnatura is ranked as the 7th most sustainable brand in Holland and the second, behind Tony’s Chocolonely, in terms of food brands. It has two taglines, both in Dutch. They are "Biologisch dat het lekkerder" is (Organic that tastes better) and "Van nature lekkerder" (Naturally tastier).
  • Zonnatura is known as a brand that offers natural products. Lots of natural products. As a result, 'natural' can mean something different every day, as there are over a hundred different organic products to choose from.

Portugal

  • Two successful examples of food sustainability brands that are focused on reducing food waste, reducing carbon emissions, and adopting sustainable practices throughout their product lines are Bel Portugal and Nestlé Portugal.
  • Bel Portugal is a market leader in branded cheese and other dairy products in the healthy snack industry in Portugal. The company has six brands under its umbrella — Terra Nostra, Limiano, Laughing Cow, Mini Babybel, Boursin, and GoGo Squeez — all of which are key market players in the country’s dairy sector. Currently, the Bel Portugal’s products are present in over 51% of the country’s households.
  • In 2019, Bel announced a new business model that was designed to transform the company’s identity and bring more focus into sustainable food and practices. With the new model, Bel is committing to “championing healthier and responsible food for all”.
  • Bel Portugal’s tagline is “For All. For Good”. According to the company’s press release, the Bel’s tagline represents its powerful dedication to improve its nutrition, responsible packaging, sustainable farming, making products more accessible, and reducing its carbon footprint.
  • According to an article published in the European Supermarket Magazine, a survey conducted by Havas Media Group revealed Nestlé to be among the top ten favorite consumer brands in Portugal. The company is actively striving to reach its goal of having zero environmental impact on its operations.
  • In 2018, Nestlé announced its new sustainable vision of expanding its efforts in working towards a waste-free future. By 2025, the company is expecting to have 100% of its packaging either reusable or recyclable. Nestlé Portugal’s tagline is “Good Food, Good Life”.

Belgium

  •  Belvas is a certified organic and fair trade chocolatier founded in 2005 in Ghislenghien. Their name comes from "Bel" for Belgium, and "vas" which expresses "good for the South," reflecting their commitment to the sustainable and fair sourcing of their ingredients. Belvas's sustainability mission is indicated in its English tagline, "Change the World a Bite at a Time."
  • The success of Belvas as a sustainable brand is indicated by a number of distinctions. In 2009 the company challenged itself to become the first ecological chocolate factory, and in 2011 Belvas was recognized as the “greenest micro-enterprise in Europe” by the European Commission in Warsaw, winning the EMAS award in this category. In 2012, Belvas was nominated for the Silver trophy of the Economy Network Manager Alliances in Nord-Pas de Calais region. The company also won the Horizons award Hainaut (Sustainable Development award of the Province of Hainaut).
  • The company continues to receive recognition in the media as a leader working for greater social and environmental sustainability, such as by a mention in leading magazine Knack on February 19, 2021. The article mentioned Belvas alongside supermarket chain Lidl, as brands who "are setting up leading initiatives to work towards higher incomes for cocoa farmers."

European Perceptions on Food Waste

  • Every year, around 88 million tons of food is wasted in the European Union, this accounts for about a 16% loss annually. In Europe, 83% of consumers would like to reduce the food waste by only purchasing what they need. Portugal and Belgium consumers responded the highest with 95%, and 90% respectfully.
  • A survey conducted by Yougov found that 92% of French respondents felt that food waste was unacceptable. A similar study reported, 88% of consumers in Sweden take responsibility "for preventing food waste."
  • Denmark is considered the world leader in the food waste movement. 85% of the population considers food waste prevention to be important. In the Netherlands, 70% of respondents are prepared to cut their food waste. Their reasons include "the fact that it’s simply wrong, that it’s a waste of money and that many people in the world are hungry."
  • According to a German study, "58% of the consumers never or almost never waste food". However, only about 13% of German consumers seem to be receptive to recommendations and are willing to make efforts to reduce food waste. A poll of 2000 UK adults found that more than 75% are concerned about food waste. More women (79%) than men (21%) expressed their anxiety on the issue.
  • In a European survey, 86% of respondents estimated they wasted 15% of the food the purchased, which is in line with the 16% reported food waste for the region. Demographically, older respondents to the survey say they waste less food. 72% of those over the age of 55% report only wasting 5% or less.
  • When asked how they felt they could reduce food waste, 60% responded that they would consider buying a freezer to consume food longer, and 59% said they would re-use leftovers instead of throwing them away.
  • Spanish consumers estimate their food wastage to be around 4%. However, official numbers show that each household wastes about 18% of their food purchased.
  • A recent study by inRiver reveals that 49% of German "consumers are willing to pay more for a product if it is clearly labeled as consisting of recycled materials or fully recyclable." Therefore, it is advisable to be transparent towards consumers as this has an influence on their purchasing behavior. The majority of consumers in Switzerland are already working to eliminate food waste at home. The majority of the population would be willing to pay at 10% surcharge on food prices to help reduced food waste by 50%.

Germany

  • According to a German study, "58% of the consumers never or almost never waste food". However, only about 13% of German consumers seem to be receptive to recommendations and are willing to make efforts to reduce food waste.
  • There appears to be a potential for improved food management. About 50% of food waste is rated as avoidable by German consumers themselves. In terms of age, older Germans have a lower tendency to waste food.
  • Currently, research indicates that German consumers do not view food waste as an issue that is closely related to sustainability. Surveys and interviews reveal that people are quick to throw away their food due to the accessibility and abundance of food at supermarkets.
  • While discussions about environmental issues and sustainability keep increasing, it remains unclear how German consumers perceive food waste and how far they are aware of the problems resulting from food waste.
  • Currently, attention to sustainable articles and their production is at a high level in Germany. A recent study by inRiver reveals that 49% of German "consumers are willing to pay more for a product if it is clearly labeled as consisting of recycled materials or fully recyclable." Therefore, it is advisable to be transparent towards consumers as this has an influence on their purchasing behavior.

United Kingdom

  • A poll of 2000 UK adults found that more than 75% are concerned about food waste. More women (79%) than men (21%) expressed their anxiety on the issue.
  • According to Rachelle Strauss, founder of Zero Waste Week, "It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Great British Public is growing more and more concerned by the amount of waste that ends up in landfill or at the bottom of the ocean."
  • Roughly 56% of UK consumers perceive that food wastage is morally wrong, according to a survey carried out by IPSOS. The majority of consumers consider the need to reduce costs as the top reason for food waste management, according to a recent survey.
  • Research indicates that most UK consumers perceive food waste as a waste of money or an ethical drawback, to some extent, "while the negative effects on the environment seem to have little importance in their perception."
  • Clarity Sustainability Ltd has published a 13-page article to illustrate how to communicate sustainability in the UK. One of the subjects of discussion includes "to understand the different motivations for sustainability." The articles suggest that marketeters need to look at the barriers in each consumer segment that prevent them making sustainable choices.

Switzerland

  • According to a survey report by the Swiss Environmental Panel, the vast majority of consumers in Switzerland understands that there is a moral, economic, and environmental problem associated with food waste.
  • Consumers in Switzerland generally consider reducing food waste to be of high priority and they consider how this is achieved, whether it is by government regulations compelling companies to adopt certain approaches or voluntary adoption by companies, to be secondary.
  • The majority of consumers in Switzerland are already working to eliminate food waste at home. The majority of the population would be willing to pay at 10% surcharge on food prices to help reduced food waste by 50%.

Scandinavia

  • 88% of consumers in Sweden take responsibility "for preventing food waste." Sweden’s population has embraced the need to sort and segregate household waste, the country is able to operate more than 34 'waste-to-energy' power plants that generate enough electricity to power 250,000 households.
  • A Norwegian survey found that nine in ten Norwegians are conscious about food waste. 18 to 25 year olds are the least concerned about food waste than other age groups.
  • Denmark is considered the world leader in the food waste movement. 85% of the population considers food waste prevention to be important.
  • The most common reason for throwing away food in Nordic countries was that the food had passed its expiry date. Yogurt and sour cream, which are products labeled with 'best before' and which last well beyond the expiry date, are food types that are often discarded when they are past expiry dates. Brands such as Q, Prior, and Tine changed their food product labeling on their dairy products and eggs to "best before, but not bad after."

France

  • A survey conducted by Yougov found that 92% of French respondents felt that food waste was unacceptable. In research by the BVA Institute conducted in 2019, it was found that 95% of French respondents claimed to be concerned by the issue of food waste, with 57% claiming to be very concerned.
  • In terms of evolution in time, 63% of respondents claimed to be more concerned about food waste than 2-3 years ago, compared to 33% who judged their preoccupation to be stable and 4% who claimed to be less concern than in the past.
  • In terms of food waste, French people have implemented a series of best practices aimed at reducing it, such as having a shopping list (89%), consuming some products even when their expiry date has passed (88%), freezing leftovers (84%), menu planning (57%), and giving away food to family or neighbors (41%).
  • According to a study by BVA Institute on the negative impact of food waste, 38% of French respondents considered food waste as bad for the environment, 31% as a waste of money, and 31% as unethical.
  • Countless private or state organizations have produced sustainability communications to push French consumers towards greater efforts. One of them is a community called Gaillac-Graulhet, who released a guidebook to help reduce food waste.

Spain

  • In 2020, Catalonia became the first autonomous Spanish region to approve a law that was created to reduce food waste from the start to the end of the value chain i.e. from the primary production sector to the final consumer. This is because in 2018, a total of over 7.7 million tons of food was wasted in Spain for an estimated annual cost of €3 billion.
  • Spanish consumers estimate their food wastage to be around 4%. However, official numbers show that each household wastes about 18% of their food purchased.
  • To communicate sustainability in Spain, an organization can leverage the opportunities that are available in the market i.e. because it has a lack of affordable substitutes - 58%, lack of accessible alternatives - 54%, and a low number of responsible organizations - 52%. In addition, the market is also plagued by a lack of information - 60% and an organization that addresses this can also successfully communicate sustainability with consumers in the market and curve out a section of the consumer base.
  • Though consumers in Spain care about sustainability i.e. 72% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on ethical sustainability reasons, there is still a significant amount of food waste, which stood at 42% in 2020 among Spanish households. Because of the conflicting figures from Spain, it was concluded that consumers in the country have not yet associated food waste with sustainability.

Netherlands

  • Consumers in the Netherlands waste 34 kg of food on average per person each year. A survey assessing the behavior of Dutch consumers before and after COVID-19 found that 26% of households waste less food after the pandemic but around 70% discards as much food as they do before COVID-19.
  • In a survey, 70% of respondents are prepared to cut their food waste. Their reasons include "the fact that it’s simply wrong, that it’s a waste of money and that many people in the world are hungry."
  • While there is an increase in spending on sustainable foods, there is very little information showing whether Dutch consumers commonly view food waste as closely related to sustainability.
  • The should be more effective communication on the proper use of “Use By” and “Best By” labels. According to Toine Timmermans of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, around 15% of consumer waste is caused by a misunderstanding of the “Use By” and “Best By” labels.

Portugal

  • 2020 research from the journals of Sustainability and Science of the Total Environment similarly indicates that Portuguese consumers have a somewhat dichotomous relationship with food waste, given that they are aware of the importance of food conservation but produce substantial food waste every year.
  • As evidence of the level of food wastage among Portuguese consumers, the country produces 1 million tonnes of food waste every year, which is equal to 17% of the food produced in Portugal for human consumption.
  • According to the journal of Sustainability, mainstream Portuguese consumers have a meaningful level of awareness as well as a "positive" attitude towards food conservation. Additionally, the journal found that there was no relationship between socio-demographics among the Portuguese and the level of importance these consumers placed on the issue of food waste.
  • However, more dated research in some cases indicates that food conservation may be a higher priority among the wealthy, educated and those without young children in Portugal.
  • Sustainability found that Portuguese consumers currently have a "particular awareness of food waste and its social and environmental impact." The Science of The Total Environment similarly noted that the food system was part of wider discussions about sustainability and the environment in the country.

Belgium

  • Belgium is at the forefront of the sustainable revolution by specifically implementing and responding to the most recent sustainability trends. The country ranks second in Europe in terms of recycled waste, recycling more than 77% of their total waste.
  • About half of Belgian consumers have noted that environmental concerns do play a role when buying food. However, they are also very conservative and have been slow to realize the impact of food consumption habits on the environment.
  • Belgium is one of the countries that wastes the most food in the world, with a total food waste of 87.1 kilograms per household per year. Despite that, people have expressed willingness to change, with over 75% of the Belgian consumers expressing the desire to change their eating habits, while over 60% of them have noted that they are ready and willing to waste less food.



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