Food Waste and The UK's Grocery Retail Sector

McNulty-Skead, Tabitha (2018) Food Waste and The UK's Grocery Retail Sector. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

[img] PDF - Registered users only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB)


Every year approximately a third of all food produced around the world is wasted, costing the equivalent of one trillion US dollars and accelerating climate change and environmental degradation (FAO, 2011). At the same time, one in nine people are malnourished and the population continues to rise, resulting in a severe and unprecedented threat to global food security (FAO, 2015). Food waste is therefore a global sustainability crisis of alarming scale that requires urgent action. As a result, of the United Nation’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs,) SDG12.3 calls for global food waste to be halved by 2030 (UN, 2015). In the UK, food waste patterns closely match those observed across the developed world, with eighty-five percent of the country’s avoidable food waste produced by households and food manufacture (WRAP, 2017). The grocery retail sector sits at the centre of the food industry, connecting suppliers to consumers and holds large amounts of power and influence over both ends of the supply chain (Devin and Richards, 2018; Wilshaw, 2018). Supermarkets therefore have a critical role to play in contributing to the achievement of SDG 12.3.

This study conducts a content analysis of corporate reports and webpages of the UK’s grocery retail sector’s seven largest supermarkets; in order to investigate its approach to tackling food waste. Findings indicate the sector is well aware of the issue of food waste and despite variation in range and scale of efforts, all supermarkets are taking a number of preventative actions against food waste. However, measurement and reporting of food waste across the sector is both lacking and inconsistent, making tracking of progress problematic. In addition, the study suggests that in the UK, the grocery retail sector’s approach to tackling food waste is not supported by the structure of the food waste hierarchy (WRAP, 2018). This is as it prioritises redistribution of food surplus over reduction of food waste. Hence, it is unlikely to be sustainable and provide sufficient contribution towards SDG 12.3 in the long run, without a re-evaluation of the focus of its approach.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: McNulty-Skead, Tabitha
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2022 10:25
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 10:25

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View