Food waste is disposed in a wasteful manner on average, despite the fact that it is one of the elements contributing to global warming. Food waste accounts for 60% of total waste in Thailand, resulting in 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Government Public Relations Department, one Thai person wastes 254 kg of food every year. As a result of recognizing such a problem, CRC established a management method that focuses on waste reduction and efficient resource management that complies with the food recovery hierarchy. Food waste data from each stage of the hierarchy is gathered and monitored on a continual basis to track reductions in total volume of food loss and waste.
- Prevention: Reduction and ensure that demand is in line with supply.
- Optimization: Allocation of food waste for maximum benefits prior to disposal.
- Recycle: Production of biogas and fertilizers.
- Recovery: Incineration of suitable waste to produce thermal energy.
- Disposal: Disposal of unusable waste by incineration or landfill.
One program aimed to continuously reduce total volume of food loss & waste is the Samui Zero Waste Model that has been implemented since 2021. Koh Samui is a popular tourist destination located in Surat Thani province, and because of its geography as an island, CRC sees the large amount of food waste as a problem for the island. The program beings with waste segregation within CRC’s department stores on Koh Samui, in which employees collect and sort food wastes into 1) Edible waste to be processed into animal feed, and 2) Non-edible waste to be converted into compost and cooking gas for household uses. The program helped CRC reduced its total volume of food loss and waste within the Koh Samui area with plan to expand into other areas. In 2022, Samui Zero Waste Model helped reduce 41.7 tons of food waste and reduced of 105.51 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gas emission.
An extension of the Samui Zero Waste Model, CRC has supported the local communities to establish the “Sustainable Samui Community Enterprise.” This helped local communities generate income from using the compost produced from the program to grow fruits and vegetables that can be sold within Tops supermarket. It has generated income for community enterprises totaling 233,437 baht.
In retail, large amount of food that are close to the “best-before” date are unsold and will have to be discarded as food waste during the inventory management process, which can result in loss in revenue and inefficiency in resource management. To fix this problem, CRC has developed a data collection and monitoring system to track food that are close to “best-before” date to inform CRC and especially subsidiaries under CRC’s food business category on programs to utilize these food waste for alternative uses.
Therefore, Tops and Family Mart has packaged food waste that are still edible but are close to the “best-before” date into “Surprise Bags” to be sold via Yindii, who is Southeast Asia’s leading online food delivery application focusing on selling unsold but still safe and edible food. The Surprise Bags consisted of a selection of bakery, fruits, vegetables, ready-to-eat meals, and many other good quality fresh ingredients that are packed daily. Customers can buy the Surprise Bags at affordable prices (50% lower than the normal retail price) via the Yindii online application and pick them up throughout the various locations of Tops and Family Mart in Bangkok. This program allows CRC to not only reduce food waste by using them for alternative uses via a food rescue model, but also generate revenue and provide low-income customers and families with access to safe and healthy food. From February to May of 2023, CRC has sold 272 Surprise Bags and plan to expand this program to nationwide in the future.
Food for Good Deed
One-third of the world's total food waste is discarded pointlessly each year, amounting to 1,300 million tons, with part of the food waste not being consumed at all. At the same time, 820 million people worldwide are facing starvation. CRC engages with Scholars of Sustenance Foundation (SOS) Thailand to reduce food loss and waste through food donation programs, rather than disposing food waste with no value creation. SOS Thailand is CRC’s downstream partner in reducing food loss and waste, who specializes as an intermediary in distribution of about to be discarded, but still edible food to those in need.
Subsidiaries under CRC in the food business category including Tops Market, Central Food Hall and Family Mart, and CRC’s fresh food distribution centers have partnered with SOS Thailand in the “Food for Good Deed” program to run the food donation program to ensure food safety. employees from CRC and staffs from SOS Thailand thoroughly inspect food quality in accordance with relevant standards before transporting the food in temperature-controlled vehicles.
In 2022, A total of 2.5 million meals have been distributed to over 700 communities nationwide and has reduced 264 tons of food loss & waste in the value chain. In addition, Tops Market and SOS Thailand have established a community kitchen called “Tops Food for All” in 2022 that gathered fresh ingredients that are about to be discarded as food waste from CRC’s food distribution center to prepare meals for low income residents of various community in Bangkok. The community kitchen allows CRC to reduce food loss and waste and help low-income people gain access to nutritious meals while saving living expenses.