The journey of food with Sodexo

Food for thought: The journey of food with Sodexo - From farm to plate

Published on : 10/16/19
  • According to the United Nations Development Programme report, 40% of food is wasted, worth close to $15 billion. Therefore, addressing the problem of food waste and making food available for consumption to the needy is of primary importance. It requires food to be handled appropriately across the value chain. By minimizing food waste, we can also achieve reduction in carbon emissions, thereby promoting a sustainable universe.

    In order to put an end to the colossal food waste, it is necessary to take a proactive look at the entire food value chain and plug the loopholes at every stage. Every step, from farm to plate and beyond, needs to be closely monitored. Once the exact amount of wastage at every stage can be gauged, a comprehensive plan can be worked out to end the wastage. 

    With a supply chain of over 150,000 enterprises, 426,000 employees and 100 million consumers, there are many ways Sodexo can make a difference and revolutionize the way our industry deals with food waste. 

    • Sodexo is one of only 87 organizations globally that have a science-based approved target. Food Waste is one of the four priorities of action to help us achieve carbon emission reduction by 34% by 2025.
    • Sodexo connects financing to action against food waste - we have renewed our €1.3 billion revolving credit facility to incorporate a pricing adjustment based on Sodexo’s performance towards its goal to prevent 50% of the food waste and food losses from its operations by 2025. 
    • On Food Loss & Waste, Sodexo has joined the WRI 10x20x30 Supply Chain initiative, which brings together 10 of the world’s biggest food retailers and providers; each will engage with 20 of their priority suppliers with an aim to halve rates of food loss and waste by 2030. 
    • Sodexo is the leader and co-founder of the International Food Waste Coalition. The IFWC aims to create even more impact by collectively improving practices across the whole value chain.
    • Every year, we run WasteLESS Week, a five-day campaign that empowers our clients and consumers to waste less and, ultimately, improve quality of life for everyone. 

    Watching the waste with WasteWatch

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    While we have made several commitments that help us work closely with clients, consumers, employees, and suppliers to deliver on the above-mentioned targets, there is one that is uniquely placed to enable the process. We have initiated a global program, WasteWatch – powered by LeanPath – which helps to identify causes and define action plans to prevent waste. Sites implementing WasteWatch can reduce food waste by up to 45% in two to six months. We are also committed to reducing waste beyond our own operations. So, we are finding new ways to cut waste in the services we deliver to our clients and focusing on the role we play as a global leader in waste reduction. The company plans to deploy the program to all relevant Sodexo sites by 2025, in line with its goal to halve food waste and food losses from its operations by the same year. 

    Identifying the points at which food wastage is likely to occur is imperative so that mechanisms can be set up to control it. WasteWatch helps identify and observe data using the three-step tool: track, monitor and act. It measures waste in the farm, on the way to the kitchen, while cooking, during serving on the plate, and finally, after consumption from the plate. Some of the tracking parameters include plate waste, overproduction, expired or decayed food, trimming of food, lack of quality, handling food, failure of equipment, inedible or spoiled food, and overcooked/burnt food.

    A Win-Win for Community Good and Business 

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    Beyond data, the WasteWatch program is a revolutionary approach to food services. Our chefs, supply chain experts, site managers, and frontline teams are trained and encouraged to think creatively and innovate in the way we plan, use and serve food to reduce avoidable waste. With the help of the data provided by Wastewatch, our teams can better forecast for meal production, design menus and recipes, manage and store inventory, process the batch and control for better portion size. This has direct impact on food costs for sites and clients. Through our pilot project launched at multiple corporate and healthcare sites between October 2018 and July 2019, we observed that about 1.7 lakh kilograms accounted for food wastage that could have resulted in about 3.7 lakh meals for the period. Rigorous implementation of WasteWatch has helped in creating sensitization, driving positive actions from consumers, kitchen staff and client personnel. These sites have demonstrated 25-30% reduction in food wastage during the given period. Global estimates suggest that sustained efforts in the long run, over a period of five years can help bring down food wastage drastically to the levels of 3-5%.

    Beyond WasteWatch

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    Despite best efforts eventually, there will be food that will be wasted. To ensure that the inedible waste can be put to best use, the Food Waste Recovery method helps recovering used cooking items such as oil to convert to biofuel and biogas, or food waste to convert to compost and grey water. In some cases, the plate waste is converted into animal fed and transported to the nearby piggeries around our manufacturing sites.

    For the edible surplus food, we recently launched our pilot program with Feeding India in Bangalore, which redistributes the surplus edible food generated on-site. The 8-month pilot project entails Sodexo’s expert guidance on food handling, storage, and transportation in addition to offering access to the surplus food generated on-site, which Feeding India will then redistribute among the underserved in the nearby communities. Based on the success of the pilot, the program will be introduced at other client locations, in different cities, in due course of time. 

    Sodexo has also established the Stop Hunger Foundation, in which Servathon remains the biggest global event. All Sodexo employees across the world, get together to fight the problem of hunger in their local communities.

    To sum up, Sodexo believes that improving quality of life encompasses a 360-degree approach to handling food and food waste; from ensuring ethically sourced food, to serving healthy food and managing waste sustainably. That is our vision of sustainable business operations and, we live by it each day.