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Can SMEs solve the supply chain crisis and reduce food waste?

1-minute read

Zach Hayward-Jones

3 August 2022

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Food buyers in the UK have reported a 60 per cent increase in food waste in the last six months due to the supply chain crisis, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by catering management company Sodexo, found that the dramatic increase in food waste is the result of 'unprecedented pressure' on supply chains.

The findings cast doubt on whether the food industry will meet the UN's goal of cutting food waste by 50 per cent by 2030.

Read on to find out why small and medium-sized food supply businesses are seen as the solution to the food industry reaching their climate targets.

Food waste has been deprioritised

Sodexo's report found that 83 per cent of food buyers have made their supply chains more resilient, but that food waste has still increased for the majority of buyers.

More than a third (35 per cent) of food buyers have admitted that food waste has been deprioritised. Despite this, 34 per cent of buyers still support the introduction of mandatory food waste reporting, which has been proposed by the government.

The supply chain crisis is the result of a number of factors – including the war in Ukraine, a shortage of labour due to the pandemic, rising costs, and Brexit.

Worryingly, supply chain issues are expected to continue through 2022, with many supply chain companies saying that normal operations aren't expected to resume until next year.

Small food suppliers will play an 'essential' role in the solution

The report also found that 38 per cent of food buyers are planning to diversify by working with smaller suppliers, while 35 per cent want to source more food within the UK. In addition,

81 per cent of buyers said that the supply chain crisis has only emphasised the need to work with smaller suppliers.

Aoife Wycherley, Sodexo’s Head of Supply Chain and Food Procurement said: “Diversifying the food supply chain is essential for building resilience. SMEs can enable greater agility because they’re more flexible, innovative and tend to drive domestic food sourcing which, in turn, can reduce carbon by cutting down on air and freight usage.

“This makes having SMEs in the supply chain essential for those that need to maintain supply and meet climate targets. Carbon data reporting is, however, a huge burden for small businesses, and we need greater industry collaboration from large organisations to support them with this challenge in order to achieve net zero in the supply chain.”

How do you feel about the role of small businesses in supply chains? Let us know in the comments below.

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