Waste ultimatum for meat and fish processors

Meat and fish processors generate 540,000 tonnes (t) of food waste, but could only cut 20,000t of that out of their supply chains by 2025, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

The achievable target represents just 4% of the total food waste generated by the sector, against the deadline for waste reduction outlined in the next stage of the Courtauld Commitment. The figure is so small because meat processing is such a mature industry, with well-developed waste handling streams, according to a WRAP report published this week.

WRAP’s research found 160,000t of the food waste produced by meat and fish manufacturers was avoidable, but only 13% of that could be realistically eliminated in the time frame.

The authors of the paper, Quantification of food surplus, waste and related materials in the grocery supply chain, state: “The greatest resource inefficiencies in this sector occur earlier in the supply chain, where over-/under-weight livestock are rejected and inedible animal tissues/bone and other animal by-products are sent to rendering.

“Waste prevention potential was identified through better tracking of current losses in value across production processes, better demand forecasting and more extensive use of ‘lean’ principles to reduce process losses.”

Use of carcases for human consumption was a key issue, they said. That was particularly the case as animal by-product rules and export restrictions, introduced after the UK’s bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis, had hampered marketing opportunities.

That said, export trade limitations were being relaxed and overseas markets were seeing a resurgence in interest in red meat offal, WRAP said.

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