Retailers helping to reduce food waste

Supermarkets, food manufacturers catering to customers who want smaller portions
Yunita Ong The New Paper 12 Dec 17;

Supermarkets and retailers are helping consumers buy just the amount they need and tackling the problem of food waste in Singapore in the process.

A National Environment Agency household waste study released recently of 443 homes found that food waste comprises about half, or roughly 2.5kg, of the waste tossed out by each Singapore home.

Over half agreed food retailers and manufacturers could help reduce food wastage, by packaging food into smaller portions at supermarkets, for instance.

Supermarkets and food manufacturers told TNP that they have made moves to cater to customers who want smaller portions.

Sheng Siong usually sells its fresh fruits packed in portions of 200g to 300g and pre-packed fish and meat in 200g to 400g to cater to small families.

A spokesman said: "Some fresh foods are pre-packed... (for) the preservation of freshness and shelf life, and reduction of food wastage caused by inappropriate handling by consumers."

FairPrice said it has not noticed a significant shift in demand for smaller packaging, but its Value Fresh range of vegetables at FairPrice Shop is available in smaller, more wallet-friendly portions.

Cold Storage's ready-to-eat meals and "pick n mix" salads are tailored on average to a portion size for two people to best serve small families and busy professionals, said a spokesman for Dairy Farm, which runs Giant and Cold Storage.

"We also look at promotional effectiveness to ensure we sell what customers want and at the portion/size that they prefer."

While the 640ml soy sauce bottle is Tai Hua Food Industries' best-selling product, sales of its 320ml version have been "growing fast" in the last few years, said managing director Thomas Pek.

Mr Pek expects an increase in sales by 20 per cent for the product this year. He said: "We think this is due to reasons such as change in family size and consumers' cooking patterns as younger people do not cook so much now."

Ms Jennifer See, general manager of F&N Foods, said: "To consume milk at its freshest, it should be bought in quantities that mirror the household's consumption level as consumption levels vary among families."

Different portion sizes offer consumers more flexibility.

One shopper TNP spoke to, Mr Cyrill Binder, 29, buys perishable foods like meat and bread in smaller portions as he cooks mostly for himself.

He said: "I am quite particular about what I buy, so I seldom throw away food."

Supermarkets minimise food waste in other ways. Sheng Siong and FairPrice sell fruits and vegetables with blemishes and bruises at a discount.

Cold Storage and Giant mark down soon-to-expire foods. Cold Storage offers discounts on its fresh foods at the end of the day.

A Dairy Farm spokesman said: "There are also processes in place to monitor expiry dates and stock levels to ensure we minimise wastage."

FairPrice said the chain adopts "a holistic and sustainable approach towards tackling the issue of food waste on multiple fronts," including public education and donating unsold food to charities.