METRO saved close to 6,000 tonnes of food from being thrown away over the past 3 financial years and, in the past 12 months alone, donated more than 19,000 tonnes of food around the world. These are 2 of the many good pieces of news featured in METRO’s first Food Waste Report, which the wholesale company published in June 2022 regarding its commitment to tackling food waste. This is founded on systematic monitoring and reporting, close collaboration with stakeholders all along the value chain, the implementation of new technological solutions and active involvement in international forums and bodies.
The results of the Food Waste Report illustrate that METRO is on track to achieve the target it has set itself – the wholesale company intends to halve the food waste at its own wholesale stores and warehouses by 2025 in comparison to baseline year 2018, thereby making a significant contribution to the reduction of food waste. The topic is a top priority within METRO’s sustainability strategy and, according to a recent survey, is also highly relevant to its customers.
Transparently and on the basis of documented facts and figures, the report shows that METRO succeeded in reducing the food waste caused by its own operations by 15.3% per square metre of sales and distribution space or by 11 per cent in relation to the total volume in financial year 2020/21 compared with financial year 2017/18. At the same time, its food donations increased considerably by 34%.
‘We have been systematically working on measures to tackle food waste for many years, both in our own business operations and throughout our value chain, using our influence on customers, suppliers and partners,’ explains Veronika Pountcheva, Senior Vice President Global Corporate Responsibility at METRO. ‘Preventing food waste hinges on taking a very close look at things, establishing concrete measures, continuously monitoring them and reporting on them transparently. We are therefore delighted to be able to highlight our first tangible successes on our way to halving food waste in this Food Waste Report.’
METRO’s strategy for preventing food waste is founded on systematic monitoring and reporting across all the countries and business units, close collaboration with suppliers, customers and business partners in order to identify and address leverage points for food waste reduction, implementing new technological solutions and active involvement in international forums and bodies. As an international food wholesaler, METRO makes a conscious effort to spot the bigger picture and is involved both in developing industry targets and standards and in the cross-company exchange of experience and best practices, among others in the Consumer Goods Forum’s (GCF) Food Waste Coalition and in the World Resources Institute’s 10x20x30 initiative. In the context of the 10x20x30 initiative, METRO has already succeeded in getting 30 suppliers to commit to the target of halving their own food waste by 2030.
Food donations as an effective means of combating waste
METRO is also committed to establishing systems for the efficient handling of food donations both at a regional level and through its international cooperation with the platform Too Good To Go, so that food which is still edible can be offered at discounted prices or donated to those in need. In financial year 2020/21 alone, METRO donated close to 20,000 tonnes of food worth around €46 million, representing an increase of more than 34% or almost 5,000 tonnes in comparison to the reference year, 2017/18. METRO has been cooperating with food banks in a total of 23 countries to this end for many years, such as with Tafel Deutschland e. V. since 2006, which receives supplies from 103 METRO stores in Germany.
In addition, thanks to its cooperation with the platform Too Good To Go, more than 260,000 meals made it to where they were needed in the reporting period. The Too Good To Go app brings those offering surplus food together with buyers who can purchase the meals at a discounted price. Eleven tonnes of food a month have been saved from being wasted in this way. Around 650 tonnes of carbon emissions have been eliminated too, as food waste causes greenhouse gases that do not occur if the food is consumed.
Another important pillar of METRO’s food waste strategy are new technological solutions that help to prevent food waste before it occurs. One example here is the point of sale (POS) system which METRO introduced in Poland in 2021. The software uses artificial intelligence to calculate the discounts that will lead to food being sold before it would have to be thrown away. In pilot tests, this was already reducing food waste by a good 40%, and this is to be increased to around 80% with the aid of further optimisations. Since 2018, METRO has also been a partner of Whole Surplus in Turkey, which has likewise developed a digital solution for the management and further distribution of surplus food.
The full Food Waste Report in English can be found in the Sustainability section of the METRO corporate website.
METRO is a leading international wholesale company, with food and non-food assortments, which specialises in serving the needs of hotels, restaurants and caterers (HoReCa) as well as independent merchants (Traders). Around the world, METRO has some 17 million customers who benefit from the wholesale company’s unique multichannel mix. Customers can choose between shopping in one of the large stores in their area or delivery (Food Service Distribution, FSD) – all digitally supported and connected. At the same time, METRO MARKETS is an international online marketplace for professional customers that has been growing and expanding continuously since 2019. Acting sustainably is one of the company principles of METRO, which has been listed in various sustainability indices and rankings for many years, including FTSE4Good, MSCI, CDP and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. METRO operates in more than 30 countries and employs over 95,000 people worldwide. In financial year 2020/21, METRO generated sales of €24.8 billion. More information can be found at MPULSE.de, our online magazine.