Environmentally friendly practices are becoming the new hot trend for grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants and cafeterias across the nation. As customers become more aware of the green movement and look for businesses demonstrating corporate responsibility and concern for the environment, food service organizations are changing to meet these needs. Recently, two new studies have emerged indicating the success of initiatives designed to minimize food waste and promote locally grown organic food items.
Food waste diversion initiatives
- Supermarket News reported that a study titled "Analysis of Food Waste Among Food Manufacturers, Retailers & Wholesalers" published by BSR, a food service consulting organization, investigated the impact of waste diversion by culinary organizations. The study also has the support of the National Restaurant Association, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Associations' Food Waste Reduction Alliance.
- Food manufacturers created about 44.3 billion pounds of food waste in 2011. However, these companies were able to use 94.6 percent of this waste for other beneficial purposes, such as donating the products to charity or finding ways to recycle the food.
- By comparison, food retailers were only able to repurpose 55.6 percent of their 3.8 billion pounds of food waste in the same year. Of all the excess food created by manufacturers and retailers in 2011, approximately 8.5 percent actually considered waste – a figure that translates to 4.1 billion pounds of food.
Emphasizing local organic food choices
- Another study conducted by the Food Marketing Institute and Prevention magazine titled "Shopping for Health" – now in its 21st annual edition – looked at the barriers to healthier eating among American consumers, according to Supermarket News.
- Out of approximately 1,500 surveyed consumers, the report found that 62 percent believed organic foods were too expensive for them to purchase on a regular basis. Similarly, 60 percent of respondents simply said that their current lifestyle prevents them from purchasing healthier meals. In total, only 45 percent of shoppers were purchasing organic foods on a frequent basis.
- Another 47 percent of respondents noted that confusing nutritional information in the media made it difficult to tell what foods are actually healthy to eat, blocking them from making healthier selections. However, this statistic was down from 62 percent of consumers indicating contradictory nutrition reports as an obstacle to healthy eating in 2007. Furthermore, about 72 percent of people are now making an effort to buy locally grown food in 2013.
By Courtnie Elston