What a Waste! On the root causes of food waste occurrence in retail stores (and beyond)

The barbeque season is almost upon us. And with these gatherings of family and friends in our gardens, we will likely consume more food in our busy households leading to too much buying, eating, drinking and…throwing away excess food! Interestingly, as consumers, we are not alone in facing unnecessary food wastage − retailers too incur massive costs and losses due to food waste.

A new paper, Retail Store Operations and Food Waste in the Journal of Cleaner Production, lead-authored by Surrey Business School’s Professor Christoph Teller investigates the issue of food waste from a retail and store operations perspective. This research aims at identifying the root causes of food waste occurrence at a retail store level across different formats and product categories.

The applied methodology features a combination of case study research, process simulations and expert interviews. The key results show that the root causes of food waste are related to undesirable customer behavior and erratic demand, inefficient store operations and replenishment policies, and elevated product (quality) requirements of both retail organizations and customers. Further the authors reveal who is responsible for all this food surplus within the retail supply chain (and beyond)  and suggest pathways for preventing and reducing the occurrence of food waste at a retail store level.

Find out more.

Authors: Professor Christoph Teller (Department of Marketing and Retail Management, Surrey Business School), Professor Christina Holweg (Vienna University of Economics and Business), Professor Gerald Reiner (University of Klagenfurt) and Professor Herbert Kotzab (University of Bremen)