FairPrice's bid to cut food waste pays off

Food wastage at NTUC FairPrice stood at 1,278 tonnes last year, down from 1,326 tonnes in 2015.
Food wastage at NTUC FairPrice stood at 1,278 tonnes last year, down from 1,326 tonnes in 2015. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Supermarket chain sells 'ugly' produce at a discount, gives unsold canned items to needy

Efforts to curb food waste at NTUC FairPrice have borne fruit - the supermarket chain discarded 48 tonnes less food between 2015 and last year.

Food wastage at the supermarket stood at 1,278 tonnes last year, down from 1,326 tonnes in 2015. To reduce wastage, the supermarket chain sold imperfect fruits and vegetables at a discount, and donated unsold canned food to the needy.

FairPrice, Singapore's biggest supermarket chain with more than 140 stores, also came up with its own food-waste index, which measures total food waste generated over total retail space. Between 2015 and last year, it dropped from 6.9kg per sq m to 6.3kg per sq m.

"Food waste reduction remains a key priority in our commitment towards our sustainability efforts," said FairPrice chief executive Seah Kian Peng in a statement yesterday.

"As we commemorate Earth Day this weekend, these latest results, which show a further reduction of food waste, will continue to encourage all of us to persevere in doing our part."

The amount of food waste generated in Singapore increased between 2006 and 2015. In 2006, it was 542,700 tonnes, but by 2015, it stood at 785,500 tonnes.

FairPrice first embarked on a structured programme to reduce food waste in 2014. Wastage then stood at 2,203 tonnes, with the food waste index at 11.6kg per sq m. Fresh fruit and vegetables contributed to about 60 per cent of this waste.

To counter this, the chain's hypermarket stores Xtra carry a special selection of imperfect foods known as Great Taste Less Waste.

Slight blemishes and bruises are sliced away before fruits and vegetables are cut into smaller pieces and sold at a markdown. Whole fruits are put into discounted "variety packs".

The supermarket chain also donates unsold canned food to non-profit organisation Food from the Heart, which is then distributed to more than 40 charities every month. Last year, FairPrice donated more than $290,000 worth of food items.

The supermarket chain has put up signs at stores to encourage people to help reduce food waste.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2017, with the headline 'FairPrice's bid to cut food waste pays off'. Print Edition | Subscribe