Bamboo Rose Blog | Retail News

Food Recalls & ESG: How Grocers Can Reduce Waste While Ensuring Consumer Safety

The problems brought on by supply chain disruptions are considered a major inconvenience in most retail sectors, but the stakes are a bit higher for food & grocery retailers.


Supply chain snags that, in most industries, simply impact customer satisfaction and profit margins, can in fact pose a risk to consumer health in the food & grocery industry.
Late shipments caused by delayed containers, labor shortages, and supply issues arising from climate change each have the potential to increase food safety failures and prompt product recalls.


These recalls generate a huge amount of food waste. The single largest meat and poultry recall recorded by the US Department of Agriculture, Food Safety, and Inspection Service resulted in the disposal of $140 million pounds of food.


Food waste at this scale is bad for business and the environment. And as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives become a priority for consumers, regulators, and retailers alike, food & grocery retailers need to start thinking about how they can reduce waste across the supply chain.


A Times article exploring food recall data from the Public Interest Research Group found recalls have been increasing steadily over the past decade.


From 2013 to 2018, there was an 83% increase in Class 1 recalls of meat and poultry. Class 1 denotes the most serious class of FDA recalls, meaning that consumers are at a reasonable probability of being exposed to a product that could cause serious injury or death.


In 2021 alone, there were 427 food and cosmetic recall events, altogether involving 1,026 products.


Retailers and consumers should both be concerned about this high rate of incidence. It’s putting consumers at risk of injury or sickness and dealing a big financial and reputational blow to retailers.


And as more regulators and governments express interest in measuring retailers’ ESG performance, retailers face the distinct possibility that the food waste generated by each recall could hurt their ability to meet their ESG goals.


Disposing of all shipments of lettuce, for example, following a lettuce recall like the one Dole recently experienced, could soon be a data point and a dark mark on a retailer’s ESG compliance report.


To reduce waste and limit risk to consumers, retailers need the capabilities to trace their complete food supply chain end-to-end and enforce quality and supplier management standards.


Implementing the right technologies to support complete food supply chain traceability is integral to effectively and sustainably managing food recalls and other supply chain issues without wasting large volumes of product.


Bamboo rose provides ESG support and visibility across product development, sourcing, and supply chain processes, empowering retailers to maintain profitability while launching effective ESG initiatives.


The platform gives retailers access to the tools and data they need to achieve community ESG compliance, incorporate sustainable materials and ingredients into products, and measure the impact of supply chain operations and disposal processes on their carbon footprint, water usage, and material waste.


Food retailers in particular benefit from this end-to-end visibility, which supports complete supply chain traceability and responsible sourcing.


This level of transparency ensures retailers can identify and address food contamination issues at the source.  Retailers can zero-in on specific geographies and sourcing partners affected by food contamination issues and address quality assurance issues more directly. By improving food supply chain traceability, retailers open up the possibility to dispose of recalled food products from individual sourcing partners rather than eliminating their entire stock of a specific product category.


This helps to reduce raw ingredient waste, cut costs associated with food recalls, and minimize impact on consumers to preserve brand reputation. Mitigating the effects of food recalls is vital in a time when climate change and other supply chain disruptions have made keeping shelves consistently stocked particularly challenging.


Ready to improve your response to food recalls in favor of a more sustainable approach? Try Bamboo Rose today.