Curbing food loss and increasing the resource efficiency of the food supply chain

© Teemu Helonheimo

Some 500 million kilograms of edible food is wasted in Finland each year – the cost equals a billion euros. The National Waste Plan lays down the goal of halving the food loss by 2030. The goal is in line with the sustainable development policies of the European Commission and the UN. Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) supports the goals of the National Waste Plan by monitoring food loss and working to prevent it.

Luke is organizing numerous food loss pilots within the scope of the Circwaste project. Their purpose is to find ways to reduce food loss by testing smart scales. Luke is also preparing a separate roadmap for Southwest Finland with regard to reducing food loss across the entire food supply chain. In addition to this, the Institute is identifying alternative marketing channels for vegetables produced by farms, looking for ways to improve the utilization of slaughterhouse by-products, and developing food aid.

The aim is to create a comprehensive solution to reduce food waste volumes in all phases of the food supply chain. Another goal is to improve the interest groups’ commitment to reducing food loss and their knowledge of food waste.

Food loss graphics
Food loss distribution in the food chain. © Jouni Hyvärinen, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Throwing innovative methods into the mix

Luke’s pilot aims to find ways to ensure that domestic vegetables are not left unharvested and that they are instead brought to the market in a timely manner and at appealing prices. This requires farmers to provide more real-time reports on crop yields. The pilot will determine whether or not an easy-to-use application would make it effortless enough for farmers to provide advance crop information that restaurants and grocery stores could use to prepare for the upcoming yield. For example, restaurants could take the timing of each crop in the planning of their menus.

Prior studies indicate that 20% of the food used and served by restaurant and catering services ends up as waste, which means that restaurants, in particular, are in need of new loss-related innovations. The Luke restaurant pilot tested the measurement of food loss with smart scales over several weeks and monitored the impact of real-time information and visualizations on customers’ loss amounts on actual plate waste among customers. In addition to this, kitchen staff has been provided with more information on kitchen and serving loss to spark conversation on ways to reduce loss. The measurements have been conducted in Turku and Pori.

Slaughterhouses generate a wide variety of by-products, some of which (such as blood, liver, kidneys and heart) could be used as human food but now mostly end up as fur animal feed, exported goods or raw materials for rendering plants. The Luke pilot aims to find out how slaughterhouse by-products that are fit for human consumption could be better recovered for use as foodstuffs. The pilot has examined the value chain of lower-value carcass parts and explored the strengths, weaknesses, possibilities and threats related to implementation. The pilot has also developed recipes together with students of universities of applied sciences. The consumers’ willingness to pay will be studied next.

Strength from cooperation

The most essential yield of the Luke pilots is a food loss roadmap for Southwest Finland, which will be expanded later to cover the entire country. The pilot aims to identify the key challenges in the region with regard to food loss and find the best food loss innovations. The roadmap will be prepared in cooperation by the entire chain through a three-part series of workshops. The first workshop, which examined the regional challenges across the entire food supply chain, was held in Turku on June 8, 2018. The second workshop, which focused on solutions for reducing food loss, took place on October 14, 2018. The third workshop scheduled for February 5, 2019 will prepare the first version of the roadmap for operators in Southwest Finland and create a concrete plan for reducing losses.

Other food loss projects

Alongside the Circwaste project, Luke is promoting the reduction of food loss through several other national and international projects. This year has already seen the beginning of a notable national project, which will develop a permanent food loss monitoring system for the entire food supply chain under the leadership of Luke. The aim is to ensure that, going forward, we will better understand the causes for loss and that we can efficiently reduce losses and reliably demonstrate the reductions.


  • 2016–9/2021

Read more

More information

  • Hanna Hartikainen, Luke,
  • Kirsi Silvennoinen, Luke,
  • Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, Luke,
  • Inkeri Riipi, Luke,
Published 2019-07-19 at 12:28, updated 2020-12-21 at 16:57

  • Print page