Distribution and retail are the sectors within the food system that connect food production and processing with final use. Due to this position in food system, distribution and retail are influenced by and can influence the entire system, both up- and downstream.

Some of the main types of food waste at the distribution and retail stage are:

  • Recalled product
  • Damaged food
  • Spoilage
  • Unsold stock e.g. promotional/seasonal stock
  • Short-dated product

In order to reduce wastes in the distribution and retail sectors, the specific reasons contributing to the generation of waste must be identified. These reasons will vary but the following are some that are commonly encountered:

  • Delivery issues (e.g. delays and oversized deliveries)
  • Regular replenishment of stocks, leading consumers to select most recent products
  • Poor demand forecasting
  • Lack of system for food donation

Relevant resources

Commercial Food Waste Research Report

This research project, which was carried out by the Clean Technology Centre (CIT) and funded by the EPA Research Programme, examined the main food waste producing commercial sectors in Ireland. With over 50 food waste surveys carried out in food service and food retail businesses, a series of sectoral food waste profiles, benchmarks and food waste cost factors were developed.


Aldi – Case Study 1

Aldi’s partnership with FoodCloud began as a pilot project in November 2014 operating in three Aldi stores. Now all 130 Aldi Stores are participating in this partnership. Aldi stores have donated over 1,308,000 meals for people in need.


Aldi – Case Study 2

Since 2016, Aldi are working with Food Cloud Hubs using reverse logistics to redistribute food during key events like Christmas and Easter.


The ultimate guide – monitoring and measuring food waste

A guide produced by Resource Efficient Scotland


Champions 12.3: The Business Case for Reducing Food Waste


Food Waste Reduction Guide for the Market Sector

This guide provides practical tips for the relevant stakeholders of the market sector


Innovative mushroom packaging trialed by Tesco

A recyclable pulp punnet for fresh mushrooms that will help them to stay fresh for longer and reduce food waste

read now

Product Recalls – Case Studies

Updates on the risk management of product recall and contamination


Irish Distribution Options

An overview of the various options to help make an informed decision about distribution


Case Study of Retailers and Food Donations

A case study of two stores in Boulder Colorado participating in a food recovery program.