Spoiler Alert eBook - Using Data to Drive Food Loss and Waste

Spoiler Alert is a Boston-based, venture-backed technology startup helping the world’s largest food businesses manage unsold inventory more effectively. Spoiler Alert uses an online platform that enables food businesses, farms, and nonprofits to create and recover value from food and organic waste. Their software allows food businesses to track and analyze the products they are and aren’t recovering, and creates an online marketplace for real-time food donations, discounted sales, and organic waste recovery opportunities.

Spoiler Alert’s new eBook, Using Data to Drive Food Loss and Waste Reductions, highlights the importance of using data to prevent food loss and waste. Reflecting on the new eBook, here are three takeaways to take into consideration.   


  1. Food Loss and Waste (FLW) Reduction is important

It’s estimated that 30-40 percent of food that is produced in America goes to waste. This wasted food can be detrimental to a company’s economic costs, as food manufacturers and consumer-facing businesses collectively spend almost $60 billion annually on food that never reaches the plate. Also, food loss and waste (FLW) contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing FLW can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural industry and, more specifically, can reduce methane gas emissions from wasted food that ends up in a landfill.

  1. Data is the Key!

    Comprehensive data is the key to accomplishing effective Food Loss and Waste (FLW) Reduction strategies. Data shows why losses occur in operations, which areas provide the biggest opportunity for improvement, and how to continuously make progress towards goals. In short, using data will allow food manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and grocery retailers to better manage unsold inventory and reduce the volume of food sent to landfill.

  2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the missing link

    Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) allow a business to interpret the effectiveness of its Food Loss and Waste (FLW) Reduction strategy, and allocate resources appropriately based on performance of initiatives. Two of the most important KPIs include shrink ratio and recovery ratio. The shrink ratio highlights loss as a percentage of inventory, as a high ratio indicates potential problems in the area of sales, merchandising, or operations. The recovery ratio evaluates the success of initiatives that are meant to recover a greater share of a food company’s surplus inventory. When the recovery ratio is low, this indicates that recovery efforts need be improved. KPIs are essential in establishing a baseline for improvement in FLW reduction strategies.

What’s next?

America’s top food service providers, major food company executives, and leading food distributors are now committing to food loss and waste reduction strategies. As the fight against food waste intensifies, more of America’s largest companies will be forced to produce their own food loss and waste reduction strategies in order to compete against those companies that are already on the forefront. As the number of companies facing the challenge of food loss and waste increases, food waste may eventually become a thing of the past.

The Consumer Goods Forum Commits to Simplifying Food Date Labels Worldwide by 2020

The Consumer Goods Forum, a group of consumer goods makers and retailers including Kellog Co, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Nestle SA, and Unilever PLC, have made plans to re-vamp the food date label system to help reduce food waste around the world by 2020.

The plan includes putting standardized labeling in place that would use one expiration date for perishable items and one food quality indicator for non-perishable items.  The particular wording of the labels would be determined by the region of which the product is in.

Confusion over date labels has been a major issue in dealing with food waste. According to a recent survey from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), nearly 60% of U.S. adults have discussed the meaning of date labels and 40% have had disagreements at home whether or not to throw away food produce because of date labels.

The Consumer Goods Forum also states that confusion over date labels on food products costs families up to $29 billion annually in the United States alone.

Any form of reduction from the consumer or manufacturer level will be helpful in curbing the 1 billion metric tons of food that go to waste annually. Reducing food waste is essential in increasing space in landfills and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

This, and similar, calls to action will prove to be important in the overall fight against global climate change.

3 Takeaways From NYC Food Waste Fair 2017

Left to Right: Louise Bruce, Emily Burnett, Marcel Howard, Elizabeth Balkan

The NYC Department of Sanitation’s Foundation for New York’s Strongest hosted the first ever NYC Food Waste Fair on July 25th. With over 1,000 attendees, the Brooklyn Expo Center quickly became a one-stop-shop on how to prevent, recycle, and recover the more than 650,000 tons of food waste that New York City businesses throw away each year.

The NYC Food Waste Fair featured 30+ educational workshops, 70+ food waste solution exhibitors, and over 40+ thought leaders and speakers, which created the ideal atmosphere for solving the issue of food waste in New York City and beyond.

As we take the time to reflect on the success of the NYC Food Waste Fair, here are 3 major takeaways from the event:

1.       Community Engagement is Key

Without an educated and engaged community, the City will not be able to reach its goal of achieving zero waste by 2030. The NYC Food Waste Fair gave great insight into what can be achieved by creating an environment that involves collaboration between state/local government, local businesses, and the community. By bringing these different groups to the table, we can create solutions that benefit all members of society.

2.       We have the ‘Toolkit’ for success

While New York City's goal to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2030 is ambitious, the NYC Food Waste Fair showed us that all of the resources needed to achieve this goal actually do exist. The NYC Food Waste Fair brought local businesses, prominent government figures, and the public to one place to tackle the issue of food waste. By bringing these different groups together, we have recognized the ‘toolkit’ needed to successfully reach zero waste to landfills by 2030.

3.       There’s still much to be done

After a very successful event, many are wondering, “What’s next?” Although the NYC Food Waste Fair created an environment for a discussion on food waste, there is still a need for implementation. The creators of the NYC Food Waste Fair are hoping this first event was just the catalyst to an ever-expanding fight on food waste in America. Bringing all of the players together was just the first step. Next, we hope these newly created relationships will help build the foundation for a collaborative fight against food waste domestically, and internationally.  

After the Fair, we were able to speak to a few attendees about their thoughts on the first ever NYC Food Waste Fair. Here is what they had to say:

Can’t wait to see this event grow : )
Great job! Should be 2 days!!
The Fair was great!
Very good event! Most useful was violations re: recycling [workshop] and the exhibits. Very good workshops.
Awesome venue! Looking forward to next year!
Please do this next year!
Great event!
Awesome event! Please host again!
I learned a lot!
I came for the panel discussions but left with info for enrolling my NYC co-op in the Residential DSNY Compost Program! Hooray!
Very happy with the event. More of them. 1 per borough.
Great first year!
Love the panel topics and speakers!
Cooking demo and Q&A were amazing!
Great and informative initiative, looking forward to next year!

Food Waste Fair Exhibitor Spotlight: EcoRich

EcoRich Inc. envisions ways to create revolutionary products that will bridge the gap between environmentalists and businessmen. Their goal is to create a long-term solution for food waste. That being said, they've created Organic Waste Management and Composting Products that can be implemented by: cafeterias, homes, restaurants, individuals, and businesses. To learn more about EcoRich, click here.

Food Waste Fair Exhibitor Spotlight: D&D Carting

D&D Carting Co is the metropolitan area's go-to for dumpster rental services, delivery, disposal, and pick-up. They provide services to commercial, industrial, residential, schools, health care, apartment/office buildings, and restaurants. D&D offers:

  1. Junk removal
  2. Solid Waste removal (of all types)
  3. Free consultation services to educate customers on proper recycling practices.

To learn more about D&D Carting Co., click here. 

Food Waste Fair Exhibitor Spotlight: Compost Manufacturing Alliance

Compost Manufacturing Alliance (CMA), focuses on the ability to move forward with compost manufacturing. CMA is a part the Compostable Feedstock Testing Institute which provides field research on compostable packaging. Their goal is to enhance composting capacity, develop food service packing options that reduce food waste, and to minimize contamination in compost feedstock. To learn more about CMA, read here. 

Food Waste Fair Exhibitor Spotlight: Common Ground Compost

Common Ground Compost focuses on facilitating the recycling of organics. They offer a myriad of services to New York City's businesses, residents, and organizations, including:

  1. Waste Recycling Audit and Analysis
  2. Recycling Program Design and Set Up
  3. Zero Waste Event Planning and Rentals
  4. Employee Education and Training
  5. Student and School Education
  6. Custom Signage
  7. Product Servicing
  8. Community Innovations and Development

To learn more about Common Ground Compost, click here. 

Food Waste Fair Exhibitor Spotlight: Action Environmental Services

Action Environmental Services is New York City's most innovative provider of waste management services. They provide their services to a wide range of customers, including:

  1. Restaurants
  2. Stadiums
  3. Universities 
  4. Malls
  5. Hospitals

Their main goal is to provide the city and the suburbs with environmentally friendly services that will aide in the reduction of food waste. To learn more about Action Environmental Services, click here.


Change Food and RISE Host Benefit Dinner to Support Food Waste

Change Food is a non-profit organization working towards eliminating food waste. Their goal is helping other organizations gain support for their actions in the fight against food waste. RISE is a food tech startup that upcycles organic by-products into nutritious ingredients. Their most popular zero waste initiative is repurposing the by-product of barley, which used in the production of beer to turn it into flour. Change Food and RISE have come together to host an upcycled food benefit dinner at the Rouge Tomate Chelsea on Monday, July 24th from 6:30pm-9:30pm.  


A unique food tasting highlighting local innovation, focusing attention on the NYC Food Waste Fair

With solstice daylight and perfect weather on their side, the Foundation for New York's Strongest, the NYC Department of Sanitation and 16 local partners and donors produced Amuse-bouche, the official preview event for the NYC Food Waste Fair, on June 20th at the iconic Spring Street salt shed.

Chefs Joel Gamoran from the aptly-named tv show on cooking with food waste, "SCRAPS", the foremost authority on sustainable food and Slow Food "Snailblazer", Mary Cleaver, and Iron Chef Jehangir Mehta spoke to a crowd of roughly 150 food scene and sustainability influencers on the importance addressing food waste and the robust industry emerging to tackle the issue.

“It saves you money, it saves the planet, and it improves your cooking in so many different ways,” said Gamoran, noting the immediate business opportunities in food waste prevention, reduction and diversion.

DSNY Commissioner Garcia spoke about the Department’s actions to address food waste and catalyze a growing industry. "Where others see a problem, we see an opportunity," she said, noting that though New York City already has the largest organics program in the nation, they are going even bigger, bringing NYC Organics to all New Yorkers by 2018. Garcia highlighted the transforming landscape, evident not only through expanded regional organic waste processing infrastructure, but also the value of the end product, compost. "Our last compost give back shut down the highway, which tells me people really want it." Garcia noted that the residential side is only half of the equation, inviting businesses to take steps to achieve zero waste and pointing to the NYC Food Waste Fair as the perfect place to get started.

With over 50 exhibitors and more than 30 workshop, panel discussion and keynote speakers lined up, the Fair will offer a “soup-to-nuts” resource fair providing businesses with knowledge, tools and resources to build a waste prevention plan from scratch, or expand existing programs. The NYC Food Waste Fair will bring together experts and provide food waste solutions for local businesses. The Fair is geared to all businesses with food in their operations, including grocery store owners, street vendors, restaurant and fast food operators, manufacturers, wholesalers, and building and custodial management. More information on the Fair can be found at foodwastefair.nyc.

The Foundation for New York's Strongest Executive Director, Elizabeth Balkan, introduced the amuse-bouche partners and their creations, noting that the evening’s small, complimentary appetizers offered the chance to ‘whet one’s appetite’ for the NYC Food Waste Fair. All of the evening’s creations – from yogurt whey-based margaritas to beer made from stale bread, vegetable skin veggie burgers and pickled watermelon – were made by reclaiming edible food that would otherwise have been discarded. Produced by some of New York’s top chefs, who have made these items standard fare in their repertoire, the food and drinks delivered on taste and proved that repurposed food is neither fad nor gimmick. Even the symbolism of the venue – a salt shed – was not lost: Amuse-bouche organizers gave a nod to salt and the age-old custom of using salt to preserve food in remarks and event design.

A lookbook, distributed to attendees along with the full menu for the evening, demonstrated the growing movement through photos – lush, evocative spreads showing how otherwise-wasted food can feed people in need, animals, and provide nutrients for soil in the form of compost and a fuel source for clean, renewable energy. Pictures of the processes used to create the Amuse-bouche tasting items, mounted on the salt shed concrete wall and keeping with the black and white theme, were both beautiful and modern, a stark contrast to photos of trash that might otherwise be associated with the Department of Sanitation.