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Pioneering solutions: SPAR Austria slashes food waste, encourages food sharing

October 16, 2020 IN THE CATEGORY: Environment, Responsible retailing

Each discarded food item is one too many. To avoid any such loss, SPAR stores throughout Austria donate food that has reached its sell-by date but is still edible to about 200 different social institutions or food sharers. Recent food waste reduction measures that were prescribed by law in France or the Czech Republic, for example, have been a common practice at SPAR Austria for decades.

Standing at just 1%, the amount of unsold food items at SPAR Austria is particularly low. Purchasing, storage and transport systems at SPAR are aimed at keeping food wastage at an absolute minimum.

SPAR stores cooperate with social organisations, local food banks or food sharing initiatives on a voluntary basis and without major organisational effort or legal constraints. This unbureaucratic support for social organisations has been intensified by all trade in in Austria in recent years. According to a report by the Austrian Climate Protection Ministry, 12,250 tonnes of food are donated to social organisations through retailers every year.

In an interview with SPAR, Dr Alexandra Gruber, chairwoman of the umbrella association of Austrian food banks, said: “The passing on of food to food banks or other social organisations has been a common practice in the Austrian food trade for many years.”

According to WWF Austria, 52% of the food waste in residual and organic waste comes from households, 17.5% from out-of-home catering, 12% from production, and only 8% from retail. Beyond donating food to social organisations, retailers have massively reduced food waste over the past years through measures including extending the best-before date and selling non-perfect fruits.

To support the reduction of food waste in households, SPAR Austria provides regular information in its customer magazine ‘SPAR Meal!’. On their website, SPAR Austria offers consumer advice on how to reduce food waste at home, including more targeted grocery shopping, correct storage, and the importance of best-before dates. Customers can also enter ingredients that they have in their fridge and receive recipes for the cooking of leftovers on the website.

Source: SPAR Austria

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About SPAR Austria

The origins of SPAR in Austria date back to 1954, but the current SPAR AG was created in 1970 when the original founding families joined with other regional wholesalers to form SPAR Austria AG – a 100% privately owned Austrian company.

With licences granted by SPAR International, ASPIAG (Austria SPAR International AG) has also developed SPAR in Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, and Northern Italy.