IKEA stores halve production food waste, saving more than 20 million meals over four years
6. October 2022 | Food Service Equipment, News, Retail News, ReTell

Ingka Group, the largest IKEA retailer, announces it has reduced food waste by 54% in its IKEA stores. That translates into more than 20 million saved meals and 36,000 tonnes of CO2 that have been avoided. This achievement results from more than 20,000 IKEA food co-workers’ commitment, who were trained to use Winnow’s AI technology in their daily routines and fully engaged with the company goal. Ingka Group first reached the 50% reduction milestone at the end of the year 2021, nine years ahead of the target date set by the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal 12.3.

As a global brand with a vision to create a better everyday life for the many people, reducing and preventing waste, and making the most of precious resources has always been at the heart of the IKEA business.

Around a third of all food produced and harvested around the world goes to waste, generating between eight and ten percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. As a major global food retailer, it is therefore key that IKEA addresses this challenge. The goal, set in 2017 as part of IKEA’s ambition to become circular and climate positive by 2030, was first reached by Ingka Group at the end of 2021.

Karen Pflug, Chief Sustainability Officer Ingka Group; Copyright: Ingka Group

Karen Pflug // © Ingka Group

Speaking about the announcement, Karen Pflug, Chief Sustainability Officer, Ingka Group said: “I truly believe food is too precious to be wasted and that everyone has a role to play to prevent and reduce food waste, whether it is at home in our own kitchens or in our business. We know that many people around the world suffer from hunger, whilst at the same time a third of all food harvested and produced is wasted. It is clear that we need to take decisive action to play our part to change this. The impact we can all have on preventing and reducing food waste is beneficial for both people and the planet. Although this achievement represents a relatively small proportion of our overall climate footprint, it is nevertheless an important step that we are proud of, and our food co-workers have been instrumental in this. Throughout the process we learned from our mistakes, made use of valuable tools and implemented a range of solutions to bring the amount of food waste down.”

Ingka Group prepares and serves food to more than 560 million people annually and sees an opportunity to tackle the issue of food waste by combining co-worker awareness with technology. A key factor in this is the use of artificial intelligence through a partnership with Winnow Solutions. The Winnow Vision AI tool measures and registers food waste in IKEA restaurants, bistros, and Swedish Food Markets around the world. The data collected provides food co-workers with a deeper understanding of what is being discarded and why, helping them to prevent and reduce food waste in the kitchen.

“Together with our co-workers, partners and our customers we are determined to play our part, and as a global food player serving more than 560 million people every year, we want to show what´s possible and I really hope that by sharing our learnings we can inspire and encourage others to join us on this journey,”says Lorena Lourido Gomez, Global Food Manager, Ingka Group.

“This milestone has been met nine years ahead of the UN Sustainable Development Goal and shows the importance of setting bold targets, learning, and developing our approach along the way. We are committed to maintaining these results while also going further to reduce consumer waste and put unavoidable food waste to good use,”she adds.

Other food waste initiatives put in place by Ingka Group include:

  • Too Good To Go Partnership

Ingka Group has an active partnership to make its surplus food from IKEA food outlets available via the Too Good To Go app. Here, customers reserve and collect a ‘Magic Bag’ of surplus food, saving it from going to waste. The partnership is live in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the UK.

  • Turning food waste into energy

The IKEA Haarlem store in the Netherlands is testing an on-site anaerobic digester that turns unavoidable food waste from the store’s restaurant and bistro into biogas. This biogas is turned into electricity that feeds directly back into the store creating a circular loop. The test also explores how nutrients from the food waste can be turned into organic fertilizer used as nutrients for growing plants.

Source: Ingka Group

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