Good Earth

Singapore NTUC pledges to reduce food waste

10:28 SGT June 12, 2017
From left: Anson Quek, executive director of Food from the Heart (FFTH), Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice, and Low Hang Swee, store manager of FairPrice Toa Payoh Lorong 4, packing items for beneficiaries.

NTUC FairPrice recently revealed substantial developments in its efforts to reduce food waste, which saw a 39% reduction measured through the FairPrice Food Waste Index, from 11.9kg/sqm in 2014 to 7.2 kg/sqm in 2015. The index is developed by FairPrice to quantify and track its waste reduction efforts and is derived from total food waste over total retail space.

Across Singapore, the total food waste generated in 2015 had gone down from the previous year and, in tandem, FairPrice’s food waste in 2015 made up 0.2% of total food waste in the republic, an improvement from the previous year’s 0.3%.

Seah Kian Peng, CEO of NTUC FairPrice, said: “Over the past months, we have seen an increase in awareness on the topic of food waste. Reduction of food waste has been a key focus for FairPrice since two years ago as part of our sustainability goals. As a leading food retailer in Singapore, we set out to reduce food waste and have since garnered encouraging results. We also work with the public and NGOs to involve the community in these efforts, as we recognise that everyone has a part to play in caring for the environment.

“Our three-pronged approach comprising processes, public education and partnerships has given us a great start in reducing food waste in our stores. As we celebrate Earth Day this year, we encourage everyone to play their part to reduce food waste.”

Since the launch of FairPrice’s food waste framework last year, food categories registering the highest wastage have been reduced, particularly for tropical fruits, exotic fruits, vegetables and fresh fish/seafood with improvements of at least 30%. This is aided by efforts in pre-packing and local sourcing.

In addition, strong internal support from staff awareness and ownership of food waste reduction has greatly increased in the past two years, and staff across all departments have been encouraged to reduce waste in their work processes.

Strong customer support also lent success to FairPrice’s food-waste efforts, as 210,000kg of fruits and vegetables were saved through the “Great Taste Less Waste” selection.

The “Great Taste Less Waste” selection was piloted at all seven FairPrice Xtra stores in May last year, where fruits with slight blemishes and cut vegetables were repackaged and sold at a marked-down price in order to reduce food waste. Following its launch, an additional 64 FairPrice stores took up the initiative by the end of last year.

Efforts also saw the launch of in-store collaterals bearing messages such as “Ouch! Keep Us In Shape” and “Ouch! Keep Us In Place”, to let customers know how they can play their part to reduce food waste, which contributed to the reduction of damaged and wasted foods.

At the same time, to give back to the community while reducing food waste, FairPrice’s partnership with local charities such as Food from the Heart (FFTH) contributed to beneficiaries through regular structured donations of unsold but still wholesome groceries from all its 131 FairPrice stores. These donations amount to about S$20,000 (US$15,000) worth of items monthly, distributed across 41 charities.

Anson Quek, executive director, FFTH, explained: “NTUC FairPrice has been an avid supporter of FFTH in the various volunteering activities benefiting the economically challenged within our community. FFTH is privileged to be the partner of choice in this Food Waste Reduction programme initiated by NTUC FairPrice. We hope that through this partnership and the collection of the food items, we will be able to reach out to more voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and direct beneficiaries.”

Samuel Wong, recovery coach at Highpoint Halfway House, which benefits from the donations, added: “HighPoint is very thankful for the donation of perishable and non-perishable items from NTUC FairPrice through its collecting agency, FFTH. The many items we have collected from FairPrice through FFTH has directly benefited residents in terms of helping them spend less money on eating out and providing them with canned foodstuff and packet noodles. These donations have significantly lowered our operational expenses with savings of more than $400 to $500 a month.”

FairPrice’s food waste efforts commenced in 2012, where a workgroup was identified to investigate causes for food waste and ways to tackle it. This had led to the launch of the Food Waste Framework in May last year which saw stakeholders at all levels, including various departments, supply partners and customers, involved in addressing the issue.

FairPrice Xtra piloted the “Great Taste Less Waste” in May last year, where fruits with slight blemishes and cut vegetables were repackaged and sold at a marked-down price to reduce food waste.

FairPrice’s food-waste efforts commenced in 2012, where a workgroup was identified to investigate causes for food waste and ways to tackle it.

The workgroup continues to explore options such as cold chain management, packaging, and more in-depth studies for longer-term planning and outcomes.