“Distribution players have a key role to play in the fight against waste”

En France, each family is preparing to waste 3 kilos of food during the end-of-year holidays, according to the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe). A waste that will help fuel the 10 million tonnes of food loss and waste saved each year in France. This ecological disaster is all the more aberrant as it takes place in a weakened economic context, where the purchasing power of consumers is at its lowest, and the crisis in the agricultural sector is at its highest.

Distribution players, whose strict specifications contribute to the phenomenon, could rebalance the food chain, provided they emerge from inertia. They have a key role to play in the fight against food waste by freeing producers and consumers from standardized products. More than half of the total losses are generated in the amount of marketing of products, that is to say during the production (32%) and processing (21%) stages. Waste at the source invisible to consumers, and yet very real.

Distributors participate significantly in this process. They require manufacturers, for example, to provide products with very long expiration dates (DLC) or minimum durability dates (DDM) (sometimes up to several years) in order to be able to sell them for longer. Large retailers also impose very strict aesthetic standards on suppliers.

Moving beyond current compliance standards

For example, only Corsican clementines which have leaves and which have the expected coloring and size are put on the shelves. Certain fruits and vegetables are therefore not even produced, because they are assumed to be unsaleable due to these criteria. According to Ademelosses and waste linked to problems of compliance with specifications or pitfalls at the harvesting, sorting and storage stages represent a shortfall of almost 20% of the turnover of agricultural cooperative farms and stations.

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Total nonsense given the financial difficulties encountered by many French farmers. In fact, 20% of them live below the poverty line. To change practices in the food chain, the government took up the subject in 2013 and has strengthened the legislative arsenal over the years – Garot laws (2016), Egalim (2018) and AGEC (2020) – with the The objective of halving food waste by 2025 compared to 2015.

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