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  • Karl S.

Turning Waste into Treasure

Updated: Jan 18

How and Why F&B Businesses Should Start Marketing Their Commitment to Reducing Food Waste 


Photo by: Simon Peele on Unsplash


BY KARL S. - NOV 13, 2023


Many people know about the importance of sustainability in the F&B industry. Industry professionals, and the general public, know that sustainable farming practices reduce pollution and protect biodiversity. But many people, both among the general public and in F&B businesses, overlook an even bigger problem. Food waste.


Food waste is the biggest issue in sustainability circles, but it is also not spoken about. For example, 33% of all food that is produced is lost or wasted. Enough to feed ten times the population of the U.S.A.


Food waste has an annual cost of 1.2 TRILLION dollars, according to the UNFAO (United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization).


For food businesses, food waste is both a financial and sustainability problem, and we CAN solve it.


As the general public becomes more aware of issues around food waste, how can F&B businesses turn their sustainability efforts into a competitive advantage?


At LightBlue we’re here to tell you that tackling food waste will save you money and increase profitability. But it can also make you stand out from the competition.




I. Executive Summary


  • Products that make ESG-related claims averaged 28% cumulative growth vs 20% for products that did not make ESG claims

  • Consumer behavior has shifted towards sustainable products, this is going to increase

  • Less common ESG claims are associated with higher growth potential than more common ESG claims. This is crucial for food waste reduction messaging as food waste is not discussed as often as other challenges

  • LightBlue reduced Constance group emissions related to food waste by 132 Tonnes

  • 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on sustainability.

  • Transparency, strong storytelling, and third-party certification partners are essential when marketing food waste messaging to the consumer

  • Food businesses should take “The PLEDGE™ on Food Waste

  • Tracking is a huge issue, working with partners on this is essential for the F&B industry




II. Sustainability in the Food Industry


“Products making ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)-related claims averaged 28 percent cumulative growth over the past five-year period, versus 20 percent for products that made no such claims.”

What is Sustainability?

Before we dive into sustainability in the food industry, and why it’s important, we need to define what sustainability means.


Many people think sustainability is more or less the same thing as environmentalism. Although they are related, sustainability is something very different. Sustainability is more about finding balance. It’s about living in a way that does not consume so much resources. So we can help the planet and preserve it for future generations.


Do Consumers Care About Sustainability?

The answer to this question is a resounding “yes”!


According to research by McKinsey, “Products making ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)-related claims averaged 28 percent cumulative growth over the past five-year period, versus 20 percent for products that made no such claims.”


The research focused on six types of ESG-related claims on packaging. Including animal welfare (cage-free, not tested on animals), environmental sustainability (compostable), organic, plant-based (vegan, etc), social responsibility (fair wage, ethical), and sustainable packaging (plastic-free, etc).


This study revealed “a clear and material link between ESG-related claims and consumer spending.”


This research from McKinsey showed that consumers are shifting spending towards products with ESG-related claims. Also, brands of different sizes making ESG-related claims achieved differentiated growth.


An interesting point in the research showed that consumers do not seem to consistently reward specific claims across all product categories. No particular claim guaranteed higher growth. However, McKinsey did find that less-common claims were associated with higher growth than more common ESG claims.


This illustrates that lesser-known sustainability claims have a higher growth potential with consumers.


Food waste is not included in any of these six ESG categories that McKinsey highlights. So, logically, “food waste”, as a sustainability claim/category is under-utilized by the food industry. Which illustrates a high-growth potential for food waste messaging.


This moves us on toward the business case for food waste reduction…



Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash


III. The Business Case for Food Waste Reduction

Capgemini’s research showed that 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on sustainability. This is in stark contrast to the 36% of organizations who think that consumers are willing to make this change in their choices based on ESG factors.

The Economic & Environmental Benefits of Reducing Food Waste

According to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), food waste is responsible for a staggering 8-10% of global greenhouse emissions. Emissions and climate action are very much at the forefront of the public’s mind. But the conversation rarely if ever touches on food waste.


Food waste costs the global economy more than $1 TRILLION every year. The economic and environmental benefits of reducing food waste are clear at the global level. This is not even touching on the social cost, with the cost of living surging upwards and with malnourishment affecting 1 in 10 people globally.

Brands and F&B businesses that stake their presence in this area are going to lead the conversation. They will also grow their consumer base, according to McKinsey’s findings discussed in the last section.


At LightBlue we have direct knowledge of the economic benefits of reducing food waste for businesses.


We work with Constance Hotels, a leading luxury hotel chain based in the Indian Ocean. Constance started using FIT, our human-centric food waste tracking solution, in May 2023. In a few months, with regular food waste tracking, the results have been sensational. 


  • 52,980 KG of Food SAVED

  • 105,960 Meals RESCUED

  • 340 Staff TRAINED

  • 132 Tonnes of CO2 emissions REDUCED


In five months Constance saved money and reduced emissions related to food waste by 132 Tonnes. This shows what can be accomplished, both economically and environmentally, with a few months of food waste training, tracking, and work.


Sustainability and Customer Loyalty - Sustainability Sells


According to a Capgemini study, sustainability has a huge impact on customer loyalty.

CapGemini’s research showed that 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on sustainability. This is in stark contrast to the 36% of organizations who think that consumers are willing to make this change in their choices based on ESG factors.


Companies that have embraced sustainability are reaping the benefits. 77% of companies say that a sustainable approach fosters customer loyalty. And 63% have seen revenue growth.


With F&B businesses, this shows a huge opportunity. Companies can grow revenue, increase customer loyalty, and tackle the challenge of food waste. An F&B business can meet all those challenges at the same time with some investment in food waste tech and training.


As customers will pick the sustainable option in the market, the F&B sector must keep up with this consumer behavior.


But how can they market food waste reduction efforts to consumers?


IV. Strategies for Marketing Food Waste Reduction - How Businesses Can Market Food Waste Reduction


As food waste has been one of the least discussed sustainability initiatives, storytelling in this area has to fulfil different functions.

Marketing food waste reduction to a consumer base that has an appetite for sustainability relies on 4 “marketing pillars”.

They are:

  1. Storytelling Great storytelling is a marketing must-have across all industries. But it is very important when talking about food waste reduction. As food waste has been one of the least discussed sustainability initiatives, storytelling in this area has to fulfil different functions.

  2. Transparency Reducing food waste is a journey. So it is important to be clear and honest with consumers. Not only when things are good, but when things are not going as well as they should be.

  3. Partnerships Marketing collaborations have become very popular in recent years. Fortnite is full of marketing collaborations. Gucci has worked with Disney. Plus, Apple and Nike have been collaborating on the Apple Watch for several years.

  4. Certification External certifications provide social proof to consumers that an F&B business is serious about reducing food waste.


Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash


V. Common Challenges & How to Meet Them


There are many common challenges that an F&B business may face when marketing its food waste reduction efforts. Here are some of the crucial challenges and barriers the F&B industry can expect to face.


Consumer Awareness: As discussed before, consumers may not be aware of the issue of food waste. Or the efforts being made to address it. Part of the storytelling strategy businesses use has to involve consumer education.


Perception of Quality: Some customers may associate reduced food waste with lower quality or less fresh products. They may think they are getting “old stock”. Transparency on storage and how food waste reduction works can resolve this.


Cost Considerations: Implementing food waste reduction strategies requires an upfront investment. In technology, training, and processes. This is easily resolved by increased profitability from food waste efforts. This increased profitability can then be part of a business’s marketing message.


Measurement and Reporting: Tracking and reporting food waste reduction progress can be complex. Businesses may struggle with establishing accurate metrics and effectively communicating their achievements to consumers. LightBlue’s FIT app resolves this challenge. If an F&B business can record its waste every day, reporting becomes a breeze. This then gives an F&B business data points that they can use in their marketing.


Marketing Authenticity: Consumers are much more aware of greenwashing. Especially younger consumers. Greenwashing is when businesses make exaggerated or false claims about their sustainability efforts. The most famous example of greenwashing is when Volkswagen was found to be manipulating emissions tests. This had serious consequences for Volkswagen all over the world.


Businesses can overcome all these challenges by being transparent. Working with third parties that can help them track and optimize their food waste reduction efforts. Third parties like LightBlue can help keep F&B businesses on track with their food waste reduction journey.


Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash


VI. Conclusion

F&B companies that do not embrace food waste reduction may find themselves left behind…

Research shows that embracing sustainability and food waste reduction messaging is a huge competitive advantage for F&B businesses. Or any company in the food supply chain. By employing a strong, comprehensive marketing strategy and working with third parties, you can make your business stand out. In the marketplace, the consumer base WANTS to choose companies with sustainability messaging. By using food waste reduction messaging food businesses position themselves as leaders. Doing this will also increase profits, brand sentiment, and engagement.


In fact, over the next few years, F&B companies that do not embrace food waste reduction may find themselves left behind. Start your food waste reduction journey right now!


VII. Talk to LightBlue About Food Waste Strategies


Get in touch with LightBlue Consulting by visiting our website or by emailing us at contact@lightblueconsulting.com. You can also take our food waste reduction course, which has a free trial to get your F&B business certified.

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