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

“Inglorious Produce”

A French supermarket decided to see what would happen if they bought the produce which was normally thrown away and sold it instead.

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Resource Efficiency for the Retail Sector

The EPA's Green business program looks at reducing waste, water and energy in the retail sector.


The Causes of Food Waste

Evidence from the UK and Spain on food waste in the supplier-retailer interface.


Guide for Retailers

A look at how technology can help retailers prevent food waste and thus help increase profits.


Foodcloud and Foodcloud Hubs

How Foodcloud and Foodcloud Hubs are working together to maximize the surplus food redistributed to charities in Ireland.

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