Collaboration is the key to tackling food waste

ECRCommunity Food Waste Meeting

As one industry observer said wryly, “everyone is talking about collaboration but the reality is very few organisations, large and small, public or private actually understand the full extent of what collaboration entails or what can be achieved”

And yet, on the challenge of reducing food waste, there is a huge expectation from the top leaders that collaboration holds the key to unlocking drastic food waste reduction.

To better understand the true state of collaboration today, and to identify what it would take to improve collaboration, a group of 40 food waste experts from retailers, fresh suppliers and academics met in Hamburg to discuss for a round table discussion on this topic of collaboration.

Kicking off the day, Dr Jane Lynch of Cardiff Business School, shared her learnings on the potential of better collaboration, and provided an overview of the new ISO Collaborative Standard for Collaborative Relationships. Jane was followed by Rainer Muench, a partner at Oliver Wyman, who shared learnings from case studies from around the world. His key points were summarised as follows:

  1. Above all else, embed an end-to-end perspective within your organisation on inventory, product flow, and waste
  2. Make sure your teams integrate the impact of waste into their forecast evaluations
  3. Quantify the expected benefits of extending the effective shelf life of your products
  4. Optimise your promotion delivery batches to better manage waste driven by the peaky volumes
  5. Ensure supply chain dashboards include waste KPIs to incentivise better stock management
  6. Collaborate with suppliers and share the benefits of joint initiatives to reduce waste fairly.

Jane then facilitated round table discussions on the barriers to great collaboration drawing out key insights from the attendees on what is getting in the way.

Professor Sandra Transchel of KLU logistics University, then introduced the concept of Maturity models, highlighting that they serve two main purposes. First, they act as a practical tool that can help collaborative partners align on the current state of their collaborative relationship across several dimensions. This can help retailer and supplier partnerships identify how, should they choose, they could advance their collaboration to the next level and what that different stage looks like. Secondly, they can be a tool for individual organisations to self- assess their current relationships with their partners.

To get started on defining what a maturity model for food waste collaboration could look like, Sandra facilitated a round table discussion to identify the key dimensions most relevant to the measurement of a collaborative relationship. The groups feedback was shared and noted.

The next step for the ECR Community Shrink & OSA Group is to turn this feedback and thinking into a draft maturity model and to then get feedback on its relevance and practicality for the industry.

For more information on this workshop, a copy of the presentations or to register your interest to join the team, please email Colin Peacock at

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