The convergence of technologies for combating food waste in food industries

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The convergence of technologies for combating food waste in food industries

In a world hungry for sustainable solutions, the agri-food industry stands at the intersection of innovation and necessity. This report aims to unravel the threads that weave together a more resilient and waste-free future for agri-food industries.

Responding to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3’s call for a 50% reduction in global food waste by 2030 [1], major global food industries have embraced various initiatives. These include :

  • the 10x20x30 initiative, employing the “Target-Measure-Act” approach pioneered by Champions 12.3 [2] ;
  • the Courtauld 2030 food waste target [3] ;
  • industry-wide programmes and roadmaps developed by public and private NGOs such as WRAP, IGD and the consumer goods forum (CGF) [4, 5 & 6].

Alongside these initiatives encompassing the bulk of the agri-food industries, from food producers to food retailers, most global food industries have created plans wherein they state their commitment to reduce their generated food waste generally aligning it with broader equity, health and social governance goals, namely :

  • The International Snacking Made Right framework and strategy from Mondelez [7] ;
  • The pep+ (or PepsiCo Positive) from the PepsiCo Incorporated corporation [8] ;
  • The Future Foods plan from Unilever, their food waste plan is also detailed in their Unilever Compass and their Climate Transition Action Plan [9, 10 & 11] ;
  • The Sustainable in a Generation Plan launched by Mars Incorporated [12] ;
  • The Better Days Promise embraced by both Kellanova and WK Kellogg Co, most recently instated following the separation of the Kellogg company into two firms and updating the Better Days plan and platform committed by the late Kellogg Company [13 & 14].

Companies are facing these challenges by considering the production across the whole value chain. Meaning that they place themselves amid the considered agrifood systems. As a result, some companies have laid out a comprehensive plan to effectively address and tackle the challenges stated in their plans.

Companies have begun addressing these challenges by quantifying and analyzing the percentages of food waste produced during transformation or packaging processes. This assessment not only sets clear goals for each step but also guides the adoption of specific approaches among the main five: an innovation approach to foster creative solutions, a machine-learning approach for data-driven insights, a technical approach for process optimization, a team approach for collaborative efforts, and a competitive approach for strategic resource allocation.

Overall technologies are seemingly always used as a tool to reach the aforementioned goals regardless of the approach considered by professionals :

  • Indeed, in regards to Innovation, technologies can be applied as the whole basis as a radical or an incremental approach [15] ;
  • Machine-learning is by definition dependant on the use of technologies for the collection and analysis of data.
  • Concerning the Technical approach, existing machines and equipments are optimised following a realisation and study of current waste generation.
  • Similarly to all other industries and company sizes, communication technologies and virtual tools are the primary tools of communication within food industries alongside tools used for meeting and reports assuring that food waste can be visible to anyone concerned giving workers an incentive to reduce food waste. Therefore, concerning the Team approach, technologies are a necessary tool to assess, communicate and audit food waste on a factory or production line basis.
  • The Competitive approach seems to be highlighted by the Univeler company. They have established “a rewards and recognition programme to sustain improvements and encourage new solutions” within some of their industries [16].

Besides the communication happening within companies regarding food waste. Researches have shed a light on the growing issue of consumer-made food waste, whether from a misunderstanding of “best-before” or “sell-before” dates and freshness expectation. As a result, an emerging food waste technology sector is being invested in alongside rising social programs to inform and nudge consumer habits. [17]

Altogether, while the corporate entities provide valuable insights into emerging technologies for reducing food waste in agri-food industries, it is advisable to exercise caution and seek additional perspectives from independent sources to ensure a comprehensive and unbiased understanding of the current landscape such as WRAP, IGP and the consumer goods forum and independent think tanks.


  1. United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York: Author. Retrieved from“123 Pledge to Halve Food Loss and Waste |
  2. Champions 12.3.” n.d. Accessed October 9, 2023.
  3. “The Courtauld Commitment 2030.” n.d. WRAP. Accessed October 9, 2023.
  4. “Food Waste Reduction Roadmap.” n.d. WRAP. Accessed October 9, 2023.
  5. “IGD Is a Research and Training Charity Which Sits at the Heart of the Food and Consumer Goods Industry.” n.d. Accessed October 9, 2023.
  6. “Consumer Goods Forum Commits to Halve Food Waste by 2025.” 2015, December.
  7. “Snacking Made Right | Mondelēz International, Inc.” n.d. Accessed October 23, 2013.
  8. “PepsiCo Positive.” n.d. PepsicoUpgrade. Accessed October 23, 2023.
  9. “The World’s Food System Needs to Change.” n.d. Unilever. Accessed October 23, 2023.
  10. Unilever. 2021. “Climate Transition Action Plan.”
  11. Unilever. 2022. “The Unilever Compass for Sustainable Growth.”
  12. “Mars Sustainability Plan: Acting With Purpose | Mars Incorporated.” n.d. Accessed October 23, 2023.
  13. “Kellanova Better Days Promise – Kellanova Better DaysTM Promise.” n.d. Kellanova Better Days Promise. Accessed October 23, 2023.
  15. Al-Obadi, Muna, Hiba Ayad, Shaligram Pokharel, and Mohamed Arselene Ayari. 2022. “Perspectives on Food Waste Management: Prevention and Social Innovations.” Sustainable Production and Consumption 31 (May): 190–208.
  16. “Tech and Teamwork: Unilever’s Fight against Food Waste.” 2023. Unilever. September 28, 2023.
  17. Barker, Hannah, Peter J. Shaw, Beth Richards, Zoe Clegg, and Dianna Smith. 2021. “What Nudge Techniques Work for Food Waste Behaviour Change at the Consumer Level? A Systematic Review.” Sustainability 13 (19): 11099.