Food Waste and Markdowns Working Group

by Colin Peacock

Food Waste

September to December 2021 Dates

The ECR food waste and markdowns working group will meet eight times between September and the end of the year. The themes for the meetings reflect the food waste priorities called out by the group at earlier sessions, and illustrated in the word cloud.

Each of the meetings will start with a retailer case study and/ or some new research findings. These will be followed by a facilitated group discussion.

The sessions will be run on the MS Teams platform, and there is no cost to participate in these retailer, producer and academic only meetings. Click the links to register and a calendar invite will be sent your way. Any questions, contact Colin Peacock at

Sept 15th: Reduce Food Being Wasted By Bad Refrigeration Units: Most retailers have in place remote monitoring systems for their fridge and freezer units, allowing them to quickly alert staff [to help save food from being wasted] and to despatch engineers to fix the problem. However, some retailers are now looking to adopt new and smarter networking capabilities that can predict when refrigeration units are going to go wrong, and put in place preventative measures that can save the food from going out of temperature, and reduce engineer call outs. In this session we will hear from one retailer who had adopted this new, smarter technology, what they did, what changed, and their results. After their presentation, we will discuss as a group their case and the respective initiatives each retailer has in place to reduce the impact of "bad" refrigeration on food waste. Click to register

October 20th: 10X20X30 - Turning an Audacious Vision into Action: In this session, the 10X20X30 leaders from the retailer participants in the ECR working group on food waste, including Aholddelhaize, will share and discuss the progress so far at recruiting their fresh food suppliers to the initiative, at gathering data on food waste and finally, sharing the leading edge initiatives that are delivering results on food waste reduction. Click to register

Nov 17th: Expiry Date Visibility - Updates on the use of 2d / RFID technologies: Great things can happen when you know the age of your inventory in the store, improved replenishment and less time spent checking date codes being just two. In previous working group sessions, Woolworths from Australia had provided an excellent update on their journey so far with 2d barcode. In this session, we hope to hear more updates, and new initiatives from retailers in the group around the goal of improving expiry date visibility. Click to register

Nov 17th: True Cost of Food Waste - Introducing a new model: In an earlier in the year session, Professor Lisa Jack highlighted the different approaches academia and industry bodies have taken to estimate the cost of, and the true cost of food waste. One of the learnings suggests that at minimum, the true cost will be plus 15% of the value of the food wasted. In this session, and based off case study retailer data, Lisa will present the model to the working group, to seek feedback before the publication of the final report and the release of the model. Click to register

Nov 17th: The Case AGAINST marking down: In the June and July working group sessions, many of the retailers reported that they were working on projects that looked to optimise the markdown process, some were looking at moving away from static discount bands, others were looking to reduce the number of markdown windows, from (say) two to three, others were looking at ways to save labour by not checking items where there would be no immediate expiry date issues, however, there are still a lot of retailers who do not use expiry date price discounting. In this session, we will hear from some of these retailers and their rationale for not offering price discounts on items that are close to their expiry date. Click to register

Nov 18th: Self Service Markdowns: Grocery retailers invest huge payroll euro's to ensure that they are not presenting items for sale to the shopper that are past their expiry date, and for many retailers, applying a series of discounts over time to accelerate the sales of items close to their expiry date. In Sweden, a number of retailers are trialling a new approach, encouraging customers to scan items close to their expiry date themselves at a station inside the fresh section to receive a discounted price, that varies depending on the time of the day and proximity to the expiry date. In this session, ICA will present their learnings to the group, for the group to discuss and debate the relevance to their business, and to give back to ICA feedback on the idea their perspective on the benefits and any "watch outs" Click to register

Nov 18th: Dry Misting Business Case: For many years grocery retailers have been exploring the use of, and business case for dry misting. One participating retailer in the ECR group, Albert Heijn, has deployed this technology widely across their store universe. In this session, we will hear from the Albert Heijn project leadership team on their ambitions for the technology (sell more "loose" product, reduce plastic, extend shelf life, etc) and their lessons and results to date. The working group will then discuss the findings, their own learnings and any future thinking on the implementation of this technology. Click to register

Nov 18th: Bakery Waste - Latest Greatest Ideas: For a typical supermarket, bakery can be 30-40% of the surplus food, and while re-purposing, charity, community and store colleague donations and animal feed can help keep the products inside the human & animal food chain, there is much more that needs to be done to prevent the surplus in the first place. In this session, we will hear about the new ideas, technologies and approaches the retailers in the working group are trialling and deploying to better manage bakery waste. Click to register

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