11 methods for retailers and distributors to reduce food waste

23 May 2023


Reducing food waste is an important initiative for retailers and distributors because of the socioeconomic and environmental benefits it provides. However, it can be easy to get lost in all of the solutions available. This post is to provide clarity on methods to reduce food waste and the order of importance in doing so.


The EPA has released their Food Recovery Hierarchy framework. This shows the categorization and order of recovering food to maximize economic, social, and environmental benefits.




You will notice the order of solutions, based on positive impact, is:


  1. Source Reduction
  2. Feed Hungry People
  3. Feed Animals
  4. Industrial Uses
  5. Composting
  6. Landfill/Incineration

It’s important to follow these guidelines to provide the largest benefits. By focusing on source reduction, food distributors and retailers can maximize these benefits. It is commonplace for companies to divert their waste to anaerobic digestion and energy recovery. But you will notice these are the fourth priority, according to the EPA. This may be seen as the “easy” solution and still beneficial to the world. But you could be doing a lot better. Source reduction is the ideal method to manage food waste because you do not have to pay for handling at every step of the supply chain. Also, it does not have a chance to produce greenhouse gases from rotting food. 


Food rotting on the ground


Ways to Reduce Food Waste


According to ReFED, there are 11 key ways retailers and distributors can increase profits and reduce food waste:


  1. Animal Feed
  2. Centralized Anaerobic Digestion
  3. Centralized Composting
  4. Cold Chain Management
  5. Consumer Education Campaigns
  6. Improved Inventory Management
  7. In-Vessel Composting
  8. Packaging Adjustments
  9. Produce Specifications
  10. Secondary Resellers
  11. Spoilage Prevention Packaging

There are obviously varying economic benefits to each of these solutions. Also, there are varying levels of benefit to the world around us. Source reduction is the most preferred method in the food recovery hierarchy. From the list above, cold chain management, consumer education, improved inventory management, packaging adjustments, produce specifications and spoilage prevention packaging can all lead to source reduction.


How We Can Help

OneThird offers solutions around improving inventory management. We are able to accurately predict shelf life and allow for dynamic routing in the supply chain. Also, with our cloud platform we can connect you with other parts of the supply chain to ensure there is clear communication based around objective data.


Gone are the days where you have to leave produce on a shelf or trust people to manually observe food to determine shelf life. With OneThird you can quickly scan fruits and vegetables and have all the information you need. We also make suggestions on what to do with that information and analyze trends.

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OneThird is reducing food loss and waste by giving anyone the power to instantly make smarter decisions about fresh produce.


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The Netherlands


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