Food loss rates at the food retail, influencing factors and reasons as a basis for waste prevention measures
This paper quantifies food loss rates for fruit & vegetables, dairy products and bread & pastry as well as donations to social services. In addition potential influencing factors and reasons for food losses are investigated in order to provide a basis for the development of waste prevention measures. Detailed data from 612 retail outlets all over Austria, which covered the period of one year, were analysed and sorting analyses of discarded food were carried out in a small sample of retail outlets. Food loss amounts to 1.3% of the sales of dairy products, 2.8% for bread & pastry and 4.2% for fruit & vegetables. Returned bread amounts to additional 9.7% of the sales of bread & pastry. The food loss rates are similar to the results of previous publications. At present, 7% of the food loss is donated to social services, 38% of retail outlets do not donate any articles at all. Food loss rates are declining with increasing sales areas, increasing numbers of purchases per year and increasing sales of the retail outlet, but explain only 33% or less of the variation of food loss rates. Large differences between retail outlets of comparable structure indicate potential for reduction. More than a quarter of discarded food articles did not show any flaws besides the expiration of the best before or sell-by date. Waste prevention approaches should focus on avoiding returns, transfer of best practices, information and education of employees and customers as well as strengthening the donation to social services.