Wasting food means wasting valuable resources. METRO therefore joins forces against wasting food and unites with our customers in our obligation to protect resources as they are our core business. We support our customers to use solutions that save resources and costs and do well at the same time.Olaf Koch, CEO METRO AG
METRO joins call for action in fight against food waste
Food waste is a paramount global challenge with environmental, social and economic implications. We are throwing away food worth $ 940 billion per year (about the market value of Apple) while 1 in 9 people currently struggle with hunger. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated weaknesses of global food systems: the levels of food waste in the supply chain have increased significantly. As a result of the steep rise in unemployment and associated income loss, the demand for food donations has increased. Food banks have been struggling to distribute donations due to movement restrictions and physical distancing requirements. METRO supports FAO’s call for action on September 29, 2020 and encourages governments, civil society, consumers and the private sector to look for innovative solutions and partnerships in the fight against food loss and waste.
Our responsibility movement
All actors in the food chain have a role to play in preventing and reducing food waste. From those who produce and process foods (farmers, food manufacturers and processors) to those who make foods available for consumption (hospitality sector, retailers) and finally consumers themselves. As a matter of fact, the biggest food wasters are consumers, which is where the biggest paradigm change needs to happen. METRO, as a food wholesale company, recognizes its distinct responsibility and obligation to be part of the solution to reduce and prevent food waste and loss, from farm to fork. “Wasting food means wasting valuable resources. METRO therefore joins forces against wasting food and unites with our customers in our obligation to protect resources as they are our core business. We support our customers to use solutions that save resources and costs and do well at the same time” says Olaf Koch, CEO METRO AG.
The reduction of food waste is a core aspect of METRO’s sustainability strategy and our relevant target contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. Under the umbrella of responsible production and consumption the UN calls for halving global food waste at the retail and consumer level and reducing food losses along production and supply chains by 2030. METRO has therefore committed itself to the Resolution on Food Waste by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) to eliminate 50% of wasted food in its own operations by the year 2025. “Fighting food loss and waste along the supply chain with impact and scale is a tremendous challenge that needs partnerships, innovation and cross-sector collaboration”, says Veronika Pountcheva, Global Director Corporate Responsibility at METRO AG. To this end, we aim to create more supply chain efficiency in our ordering and stocking system and cooperate with various social and business partners along the supply chain, from the field to logistics, our own operations and our customers.
In 22 countries we cooperate with food service organizations and social institutions in order to avoid food waste in our stores, restaurants and warehouses. In Germany, we have been working together with the foodbank “Die Tafel” for over 20 years, 14 years as main sponsor. Every day, the local organisations collect food from all our 103 stores in Germany. In 2017/2018 METRO Germany donated food for about 8 Million meals that went to people in need. Last October, METRO Germany committed itself to further action against food waste and signed a declaration within a dialogue forum of wholesale and retail companies. The so-called „Dialogforum des Groß- und Einzelhandels zur Reduktion von Lebensmittelverschwendung“ was initiated by the German Ministry of Agriculture. An important goal of the forum is to improve data collection and to discuss initiatives to further reduce waste in our sector. In Romania, METRO together with other retailers build up a network of food banks together with the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA) and achieved a Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption for products donated close to the maturity.
Fighting food loss and waste along the supply chain with impact and scale is a tremendous challenge that needs partnerships, innovation and cross-sector collaboration.Veronika Pountcheva, Global Director Corporate Responsibility at METRO AG
Start-ups against food waste
To complement our partnerships with food banks across Europe and to further reduce food waste, we work with innovative start-ups such as Too Good To Go (TGTG) and SIRPLUS. SIRPLUS collects surplus food and drinks from our wholesale stores in Berlin, that can no longer be sold or passed on to the food banks. METRO and TGTG cooperate in nine countries to not only reduce food waste in METRO’s operations but also to inspire and empower our customers. In Germany TGTG rescues unsold meals from the canteen at our headquarters in Düsseldorf. MAKRO Netherlands cooperates with TGTG in all 17 stores and since 2018 almost 59.000 meals have been saved, an equivalent of 146,625 kg of CO2. In Turkey, METRO has a strong holistic partner with Whole Surplus. Their solution includes a digital platform to manage food waste inventory based on real time data analytics and a unique marketplace for redistribution and donation.
Partnering with our suppliers
In order to team up with our partners along the value chain METRO joined the 10x20x30 initiative of the World Resource Institute in September 2019. Within this initiative at least 10 of the world’s largest food retailers and providers follow the “Target-Measure-Act” approach and each engages 20 of their priority suppliers to do the same – thereby halving their food loss and waste by 2030.Together with participating businesses we share the mission to massively increase private sector contribution to the global goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2030 by catalyzing efforts “up” the supply chain.
Empowering and inspiring our customers
Raising awareness of the value of food is also an important part of our food waste strategy and we want to empower our HoReCa customers to transform into a more sustainable business. Our METRO teams in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Poland propose TGTG as a digital solution to their customers to fight food waste in their operations. Our TGTG partnership therefore also connects to our Wholesale 360 approach, which aims to strengthen the competitiveness of our customers in all business aspects and as sustainable as possible, from food to personnel to equipment. Our very own business unit Hospitality Digital provides access to digital solutions and innovative applications. MenuKit for example is an application that calculates the costs of goods sold and defines optimal sales pricing. As an additional bonus it is also ideal as a central recipe database.
What’s ahead and political support
Fighting food waste and loss is a responsibility that governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and consumers share altogether. We recognize our responsibility and constantly aim for improvement. At the same time, we encourage governments and political stakeholders to develop regulatory provisions that reinforce and facilitate activities of the private sector. One of the biggest obstacles for METRO and other food retailers is still the issue of VAT when it comes to working with food banks or any other social initiative. Some EU countries apply little or no VAT on food to be redistributed, other EU Member States consider the prices of such foods to be at the same level as their purchase price through usual commercial transactions. To avoid negative consequences for food banks we support a more harmonized approach, in line with the European Commission’s guidelines (2017) on food donation. While it is important that collaborations with social institutions are prioritized to fight food poverty, we encourage governments to consider young start-ups such as SIRPLUS and TGTG as complementary and to facilitate such partnerships through respective VAT exemptions.