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Integrating Sustainability in the Food Supply Chain: Two Measures to Reduce the Food Wastage in a Swedish Retail Store
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Due to the growing world population, the environmental impact from the food supply chain is currently increasing in a global perspective, essentially because the global food consumption is increasing in general. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that about one third of the edible portions of the food produced globally is lost or wasted along the way from raw materials to the dinner plate. When food is produced, transported, stored, treated and processed in different ways it consumes a lot of resources and energy and causes large negative impact on the environment due to emissions of pollutants affecting waters, soil and air. When food is wasted somewhere in the food supply chain, it implies unnecessary emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants and also entails a pointless extraction and use of natural resources: each since the production is made in vain. Sustainable development has been generally accepted as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Quite simple, this means that humanity of today needs to conserve the remaining resources on Earth and sharply reduce the anthropogenic environmental impact. In order to attain a state where man can live in equilibrium with the natural world,humanity must pursue sustainability in every activity and every movement. According to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) a reduction of food loss within the food supply chain could facilitate society’s quest to develop in a sustainable manner. The retail store is one place where large numbers of food items are gathered at the same location and where a lot of food is discarded, many times completely in vain. It is thus a suitable place to take actions to reduce the foodloss in a quite effective way. In a Swedish retail store located in Uppsala, two product specific measures have been introduced; a new display table intended to reduce the loss bananas and a new price reduction routine intended to reduce the loss of grilled chicken. This thesis aims to investigate whether the measures put in place actually have resulted in reduced losses or not. The goal of the study was to examine how much unnecessary environmental impact (in terms of contribution to global warming) that hence has been avoided. The research questions are studied through a combination of data analyses, interviews and life-cycle assessments. SWOT analyses have also been conducted in order to evaluate the introduced measures in terms of contribution to sustainable development within the food sector. The results of the study concluded that the measure based on price reduction has reduced the losses of grilled chicken with approximately 200 kg per annum. This implies that an annual climate impact of around 430 kgCO2-equivalents has not been caused in vain, which should be the case if the 200 kg of chickens had instead been discarded. The study however shows that the measure is not particularly effective and could be improved in order to further reduce the daily losses. The data analysis show that the banana waste that arises during the exposure in the store has decreased with 1 200 kg per year, implying that around 1 400 CO2-equivalents has not been caused in vain. However, the study also shows that a rather complex system containing economic routines for handling food waste, most likely is wrongly used. Unfortunately, the routines may affect the registered waste outcome from the new display table due to a relocation of the waste from one waste category to another. The new display table’s effect on the total waste quantity is therefore difficult to evaluate. The conducted SWOT-analyses finally concluded that both introduced measures had strong environmental and economic benefits (and also favorable social benefits in the case of the display table), making them good and useful interdisciplinary solutions in terms of sustainability: thus contributing to a sustainable development within the food sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 61 p.
Examensarbete vid Institutionen för geovetenskaper, ISSN 1650-6553 ; 94
Keyword [en]
Food loss, Food Supply Chain, Climate Impact, Resource Depletion, Sustainable Development.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-194122OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-194122DiVA: diva2:604346
Subject / course
Sustainable development
Educational program
Master Programme in Sustainable Development
2012-11-08, Stora Stöten, Department of Earth Sciences, Villavägen 16, 752 36 Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2013-02-10 Created: 2013-02-09 Last updated: 2013-02-10Bibliographically approved

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