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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Food waste reduction in supermarkets - Net costs and benefits of reduced storage temperature

Eriksson, Mattias; Strid, Ingrid; Hansson, Per-Anders

Abstract

Food waste is a major problem and therefore measures are needed to reduce it. Since expired best-before date is a frequently cited cause of food waste in supermarkets, prolonging shelf life could reduce food waste. Longer shelf life could be achieved in different ways, e.g. reduced storage temperature. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the extent to which longer shelf life actually leads to reduced food waste, and whether the benefits of reduced waste exceed the increased energy costs of maintaining reduced storage temperature. Therefore this study calculated the net effect of reducing food waste in supermarkets by reducing the storage temperature through simulating the relationships between food waste reduction, longer shelf life, reduced storage temperature and increased energy costs.A case study was performed using three years of data on cheese, dairy, deli and meat product waste in six Swedish supermarkets, together with published data on microbiological growth at different temperatures and on the energy requirement for cold storage at different temperatures. Food waste was found to be reduced with lower storage temperature for all food products tested. This measure gave increasing net savings in terms of money and greenhouse gas emissions for meat products with decreasing storage temperature. Deli products had net savings close to zero, while for dairy and cheese products there were net losses, since the costs of reducing storage temperature exceeded the potential savings. Therefore, reducing storage temperature has the potential to reduce waste, but at a total net cost. However, a net benefit can be achieved if the measure is only introduced for products with high relative waste, low turnover and high value per unit mass. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords

Waste prevention; Retail; Shelf life; Turnover

Published in

Resources, Conservation and Recycling
2016, Volume: 107, pages: 73-81
Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV