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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 andwholesale are tackling the problem of food waste, as Sonae shared itsexperience managing the supply chain, namely the producer-logistics-storerelationship. The event also included interventions by Carrefour, AholdDelhaize/Instock and Tesco, while Sonae shared its Continent Producer’s Clubinitiatives concerning the moment the product enters the distribution circuit.

This is something we are particularly focusedon, for we, as food retail leaders in Portugal, are very much aware of theresponsibility and impact of our actions and are committed to promotinginitiatives that can contribute to society’s sustainable development.Therefore, we presented four main initiatives: the first was a tool developed in-houseby Continente Producer’s Club, whichallows to register the quantities of fruits and vegetables ordered to eachsupplier for a specific season and its corresponding adjustment upon salesanalysis. This way, the producer can then adapt its crops to each season accordingto average sales.

The development ofspecific packaging to optimize our products’ shelf life in every store was another topicpresented. Specifically, new packages for certain fruits – particularly toprotect them from being smashed – and new vacuum packages for cheese and ham (chouriço), which expand their expirydate. Moreover, the optimization ofprocesses to increase the delivery of fresh products directly to the stores wasalso worth mentioning, although still a work in progress, that is particularlyfocused 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 brandproducts) in partnership with some of our suppliers was yet another example ofhow Sonae is avoiding food waste.

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

Leonor Sottomayor
Head of Public Affairs

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