Repackaging, donations enabled FairPrice to slash food wastage

Repackaging, donations enabled FairPrice to slash food wastage
Under FairPrice's Great Taste Less Waste initiative, fruits and vegetables are repackaged to make them more attractive to consumers. Photo: Wee Teck Hian
Published: 4:00 AM, April 21, 2017
Updated: 8:39 AM, April 21, 2017

SINGAPORE — By repackaging unappealing-looking but still good-to-consume food, as well as donating unsold canned food, NTUC FairPrice, the largest supermarket chain here, reduced food wastage by 48,000kg last year, an 8.6 per cent drop from 2015.

Compared with 2014, when it started initiatives to tackle the issue, FairPrice’s food wastage has nearly halved (45 per cent), the chain said in an update yesterday, ahead of Earth Day tomorrow. More and more food waste has been generated every year.

In 2015, 785,500 tonnes were generated, more than 30 per cent higher than a decade ago, latest statistics from the National Environment Agency website show.

The recycling rate of food waste, however, has stagnated at 13 per cent from 2013 to 2015.

In 2006, the recycling rate was 8 per cent, rising to a high of 16 per cent in 2010, before plunging to 10 per cent in 2011, then inching up.

FairPrice started repackaging unappealing-looking food for sale at marked-down prices in 2015 to try to cut down on the amount of food it had to dump.

Under this initiative — first introduced at its FairPrice Xtra stores, and since expanded to 109 supermarkets islandwide — fruits and vegetables with slight blemishes and bruises sliced away, were cut into smaller pieces and sold at a marked down price. Whole fruits with slight blemishes were also repackaged into a variety pack and sold at a lower price.

FairPrice noted that fruits and vegetables make up the bulk of food waste, amounting to about 60 per cent of all such waste.

The chain also donates unsold canned food to voluntary welfare organisation Food from the Heart, which sends it to more than 40 charities, helping over 7,000 beneficiaries monthly.

FairPrice also supports the Food from the Heart’s Clean Plate campaign, aimed at encouraging more than 10,000 primary school students not to waste food. It donated S$150,000 in support of this initiative to the Voluntary Welfare Organisation last year.

This year, FairPrice also donated unsold food, as well as provided three collection points for food donations, for Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s 10-Tonne Food Drive for Food Bank Singapore.

Mr Seah Kian Peng, chief executive officer of NTUC FairPrice, said: “Food waste reduction remains a key priority in our commitment towards our sustainability efforts. We are encouraged that the various initiatives we introduced to address this issue have gained traction over a short period of time with strong support from the community and our partners.”