Study to Bring Benefits to Meat Sector

UK - New research will develop detailed 'resource maps' to identify the amount of food and packaging waste generated and where it occurs as a step to delivering environmental and commercial benefits across the meat sector.
calendar icon 6 November 2009
clock icon 4 minute read

The amount of meat and its associated packaging ending up as waste in the UK retail supply chain is to be identified for the first time - and the team behind the research will also identify how to reduce it in order to realise cost savings and environmental benefits for the businesses participating.

The new research, led by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) and Envirowise, will develop detailed 'resource maps' to identify the amount of food and packaging waste generated and where it occurs. Data will be collected for four types of meat (poultry, beef, lamb and pork) at all points along the wholesale and retail supply chain within the UK.

The project will also detail the amount of water consumed and disposed of during processing. The carbon impact of waste – and its economic value – will be identified too.

WRAP and Envirowise are encouraging companies to take part in the research to provide accurate and up-to-date information about waste produced across all parts of the supply chain. The results will benefit participating businesses and the wider industry by identifying key areas where resources can be used more efficiently and waste can be prevented. This will include making recommendations to tackle the 'hot spots' and the development of good practice case studies.

Charlotte Henderson, Retail Supply Chain Programme Manager at WRAP, said: "Meat products are priority food items for resource mapping because of their high embodied carbon and short shelf-life.

"Identifying where and when the waste is generated – and the reasons why – will help us develop solutions to use resources more efficiently. These solutions will be shared and be good news for companies within the supply chains because the benefits identified will be commercial as well as environmental".

She also said that the problem of meat waste, alongside water use, is complex, requiring a multi-disciplinary approach.

With this in mind, food and grocery supply chain expert, IGD, is undertaking the research on meat in partnership with the MLCSL Consulting (a commercial subsidiary of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board), the British Poultry Council and Cranfield University. The work will link in to the English Beef & Lamb Executive and Defra Meat Roadmap work currently being undertaken.

Christine Walsh, Senior Consultant at MLCSL Consulting, said: "The meat processing industries – encompassing abattoirs, cutting plants, wholesale and retail packing plants, and retail sector – are always working to reduce their waste. This project will give the whole industry an up-to-date benchmark as to where they are and will also signpost them to further opportunities for improvement along the supply chain for the next decade".

David Gordon, IGD's Director of Industry Development, commented: "IGD is delighted to lead this essential research for WRAP. Our project will follow cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry from the abattoir to the retail check-out and will examine how each part of the animal is used to understand where opportunities arise to reduce waste. Producing meat is a resource intensive process and finding ways to eliminate waste from the supply chain will undoubtedly bring economic and environmental benefits."

The project team will be contacting companies across the supply chain, representing over 80% of the meat consumed in the UK, to participate in the project and provide data. Aggregated results of the survey will be shared with the industry and benchmarking reports will be developed.

Businesses interested in being involved should e-mail [email protected]

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