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Leonor Sottomayor

Fighting food waste in the distribution chain

03 February 2017

Last 25 January, Sonae was in Brussels for the "Rising to the Food Waste Challenge” event, organized by EuroCommerce. The debate discussed how retail and wholesale are tackling the problem of food waste, as Sonae shared its experience managing the supply chain, namely the producer-logistics-store relationship. The event also included interventions by Carrefour, Ahold Delhaize/Instock and Tesco, while Sonae shared its Continent Producer’s Club initiatives concerning the moment the product enters the distribution circuit.

This is something we are particularly focused on, for we, as food retail leaders in Portugal, are very much aware of the responsibility and impact of our actions and are committed to promoting initiatives that can contribute to society’s sustainable development. Therefore, we presented four main initiatives: the first was a tool developed in-house by Continente Producer’s Club, which allows to register the quantities of fruits and vegetables ordered to each supplier for a specific season and its corresponding adjustment upon sales analysis. This way, the producer can then adapt its crops to each season according to average sales.

The development of specific packaging to optimize our products’ shelf life in every store was another topic presented. Specifically, new packages for certain fruits – particularly to protect them from being smashed – and new vacuum packages for cheese and ham (chouriço), which expand their expiry date. Moreover, the optimization of processes to increase the delivery of fresh products directly to the stores was also worth mentioning, although still a work in progress, that is particularly focused on certain products from specific suppliers.

Last but not least, the development of new products based on "out of format” items (e.g., seizing "ugly fruit” to produce juices, or the Continente own brand products) in partnership with some of our suppliers was yet another example of how Sonae is avoiding food waste.

This was a very useful debate and we believe that, by sharing our experience and getting to know the best European practices, while also analysing the difficulties experienced by other retail companies across the continent, we are contributing to effectively fight food waste and find the right solutions. The challenges are great, but they are what drive us to continuously work towards what we wish to be a better future. It is our belief that, with our help and the support of other stakeholders in the market, the European institutions will likewise continue to take on an important role.

Leonor Sottomayor
Head of Public Affairs