Foodwaste in retail chains in Poland

There are huge differences between the amount of food donated between the two largest retail chains in Poland: Lidl and Biedronka.

Polish retail chain 'Biedronka'- sign in front of a shop
©A.Murawska

Worldwide, as much as a third of the food produced is not eaten each year, and food weighing 51 tons is thrown out every second. In cash terms, $ 2.6 trillion annually ends up in the basket. The seriousness of the situation is added by the fact that throwing away food alone is responsible for 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Shops generate about 5% of food losses in Poland, but it is the retailers and wholesalers of food that have been obliged by the act on counteracting food waste to conclude an agreement with non-governmental organizations on the provision of free food. In addition, store owners must organize promotional campaigns to encourage consumers not to waste.

The financial statements of Jeronimo Martins Polska and Lidl Polska show that the entire chain of Lidl stores generates over 2.5 times lower turnover than Biedronka discount stores. The reason is even a smaller number of outlets (there are about 760 Lidl stores, and about 3120 Biedronka stores). However, if Lidl achieved a turnover comparable to that generated by Jeronimo Martins Polska, it would still give up 60 times less food than Biedronka. In fact, Biedronka is at the forefront of food donated per PLN 1 million of revenue, but these are still small amounts compared to the total food turnover in this chain. In this comparison, Lidl seems to be a master in managing the product offer.

Last year, Biedronka stores delivered over 12.4 thousand tons of unsold food. These are wholesome food products that went to the Polish Food Banks and Caritas Polska. Lidl also cooperates with Caritas. Since March 2020, the German discount chain has handed over approx. 76.9 tons of unsold food, the shelf life of which has not yet expired.

The Federation of Polish Food Banks and Caritas Polska are organizations that specialize in collecting food from stores. In total, in 2020, these organizations received over 20 thousand tons of food from about 3.3 thousand shops.

- The number of stores served and, consequently, the number of food donation receipts, increased by over 40%. At the same time, the amount of food saved from wasting did not increase much, which proves the effectiveness of the goal of the law intorduced last year. - confirms the Federation of Polish Food Banks.

Most of the food is donated to public benefit organizations by the above-mentioned Biedronka. - Since 2016, we have been developing a program of donating food products directly from shops to public benefit organizations dealing in this area. We mainly provide: fresh meat, cold cuts, dairy products, fish, vegetables and fruit. We cooperate with over 100 public benefit organizations. In 2020, out of 1,941 stores across Poland, we handed over 12.4 thousand tonnes of food with a total value of over PLN 131 million. It's about 29% more than in 2019. It is worth paying attention to the number of stores. At the end of 2020, the Biedronka chain had 3,115 stores, which means that food was successfully donated from over 60% of them.

logo Lidl
©Pixabay

Lidl adopted a different strategy than that preferred by Biedronka in terms of not wasting food. In the entire last year, the retail chain handed over only less than 76.9 tons of food. Lidl focused on a discount action clearly visible at discounters under the slogan "I buy, I do not waste", under which we offer fresh meat, poultry and fish, refrigerated products and some of the so-called dry products (e.g. packaged bread, cakes) with a short shelf life. - Discounts for these items appear before the expiry date and are valid until the last day of use. Food is discounted by 50% and breads and rolls by 70%. Discounted products are always found by customers at the place of their standard presentation.

Auchan and Netto networks took a similar path. In each Auchan store there is a special zone marked with the logo "We do not waste - save!" for short-term food that is sold at discounted prices. Additionally, Auchan has entered into a partnership with the Too Good To Go application. From December 2020, its users can order special packages from Auchan, in which every day there are full-value and affordable products with short expiry dates. The project is already operating in 14 stores in Warsaw.

Netto Polska has also taken a number of measures to encourage customers to make more informed purchases and management of food products, thanks to which it is possible to reduce food waste. “We are lowering the prices of damaged products or food whose expiry date is approaching the end of up to 70%. They are available in all our stores, in zones marked with the name of the action We do not waste food, ”informs the retailer.

The structure of the regulations in force from March 1, 2020 motivates food sellers to hand over unsold products, because otherwise they incur additional fees for wasting food. The rate is PLN 0.1 per 1 kg of wasted food. If the retail chains we asked about the scale of food donation did not return unsold products, they would have to pay an additional PLN 2 million in total.

The provisions primarily apply to entrepreneurs whose stores have a sales area of ​​more than 400 sq m, and the revenues from the sale of foodstuffs constitute at least 50 percent. revenues from the sale of all goods. Only two years after the entry into force of the act, i.e. from September 18, 2021, the provisions will apply to shops or wholesalers also with a slightly smaller sales area (over 250 sq m).

The Federation of Polish Food Banks and Caritas Polska have been cooperating with retailers in this area for many years. The introduced act is to mobilize stores to discount food with an expiring shelf life or to give it back to people in need. This is especially true for smaller chain stores or individual retailers, which have so far not donated unsold food.

Before the food expires, surplus food is donated to charities, sold at a lower price in the store or through a suitable outlet platform such as Too Good Too Go.

Source: wiadomości handlowe.pl