New Initiative to Halve Food Waste in the Netherlands : Food Waste Reduction Goes Dutch

Wageningen University & Research food waste champions
© Wageningen University & Research/Guy Ackermans

The Netherlands has launched a new scheme dubbed United Against Food Waste as it aims to be one of the first countries in the world to cut food waste in half.

The initiative was announced by the Taskforce Circular Economy in Food, a group made up of companies, research institutes, civil society organisations and the government.

Among the action items announced was a pilot supermarket aisle filled with items made from foods that otherwise would have gone to waste. The store shelf features products like soup created from wonky fruit and vegetables, beer from stale bread, and soaps made from discarded orange peels.

Researchers from Wageningen University & Research will monitor and test sales and a host of other data points over the next six months to learn how best to expand the line of items.

The aisle was opened in the George Verberne Jumbo Supermarket in Wageningen by Louise Fresco, President of Wageningen University & Research’s executive board and a member of Champions 12.3, the global coalition of executives committed to halving food loss and waste by 2030.

“It’s very exciting to be able to go into a grocery store and buy items you know are helping to avoid excess waste. It’s equally exciting to see the lessons we can glean about which types of products and packaging appeal to consumers, what pricing level is correct, and how best to market and present the products,” said Fresco. “One-third of all food is lost or wasted in the world, and the social, environmental and economic impacts are enormous. It’s urgent that we find scalable solutions to this challenge.”

The supermarket aisle is one part of the new national program which will focus on monitoring progress, joining forces to combat food waste across the food supply chain, changing consumer behavior to waste less food, and promoting legislation.

The Netherlands is among the top countries in the world for tackling food loss and waste due to leadership from across its sectors.

In addition to Fresco, Dutch members of Champions 12.3 include Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN Organisations for Food and Agriculture; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Wiebe Draijer, Chairman of the Managing Board for Rabobank; Feike Sijbesma, CEO and Chairman of the Managing Board for Royal DSM; and Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

“Food loss and waste is an issue that must be prioritized, and it takes committed leaders to do that. We have an obligation to ensure the food that is produced around the world feeds people, and that it doesn’t go unused or end up in landfills. A lot of work remains. Public-private partnerships are vital for building the momentum needed to halve the more than 1 billion tons of food that is lost or wasted from farm to fork each year,” said Hoogeveen.


Rabobank, a major food and agriculture bank – announced Kickstart Waste, a 3 year program to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals’ Target 12.3 on food loss and waste.

With Kickstart Waste, Rabobank aims to show how partners, including customers and companies throughout the food chain, can work together worldwide to find solutions to halve food waste by 2030.

Draijer commented: “We see the ongoing transition to a sustainable food and agricultural sector not only as a moral imperative, but also as an incredible business opportunity.

“According to the FAO, there is a potential global market of almost a trillion dollars in food waste and food loss alone. We’re seeing an increasing number of clients investing in sustainability measures throughout the food value chain.

“At the same time, we’re excited about the emerging technologies coming from the start-ups we’re discovering and supporting through our FoodBytes! events and our Terra accelerator program. The need for change has never been greater, and as a result the business opportunities have never been bigger.”

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