Surplus Food Recovery and Donation in Italy: The Upstream Process
Updated version: British Food Journal, 2014, 116, 9, 1460-1477
31 Pages Posted: 15 May 2014 Last revised: 2 Jan 2015
Date Written: April 7, 2014
Purpose of this paper This paper offers quantitative evidence on how surplus food, i.e. safe food that is not sold to the intended customers, is generated and recovered within Italian manufacturing and retail firms. The ultimate aim is to enlighten the process through which the food supply chain firms come to donate surplus food to food banks.
Design/methodology/approach Surplus food and recoverability were defined as the key terms of the problem. 12 exploratory case studies were conducted to segment the manufacturing and retail sectors, to assess recoverability in each segment, and to establish the protocols for descriptive case studies. A multiple case-study approach was used and 83 firms were investigated.
Findings The primary source of surplus food is shown to result from products reaching the internal sell-by date, i.e. the date by which manufacturers and warehouses must supply perishable products. Donation to food banks is found to be a relevant management practice in the ambient and chilled manufacturing segments and at retail distribution centres, while frozen food companies and retail stores are found to rely nearly exclusively on waste disposal.
Research limitations/implications The degree to which our findings are specific to Italy is an issue to investigate. Future research should target surplus food management in farming and food services, and assess the cost effectiveness of alternative management channels. Practical and social implications The paper highlights the changes required to increase the amount of food recovered by food banks. It also summarizes the steps for establishing a structured procedure for managing surplus food within firms.
What is original/value of paper The paper offers quantitative evidence on a relatively untapped yet socially relevant topic, i.e. the upstream process of food recovery and donation.
Keywords: surplus food, food banks, food recovery, food supply chain
JEL Classification: M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation