Here’s what you can do about food waste

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Worldwide, one-third of food ends up in the garbage, about 1.3 billion tons. In Austria alone, 157,000 tons of food and leftovers from private households are thrown away yearly. A large part of this waste is due to incorrect purchasing behaviour. The Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration is also working on the topic. Gerald Reiner, head of the Institute for Production Management, is researching food waste and how retailers can prevent it.

In Reiner’s studies, three main causes emerge: Overproduction due to inaccurate sales forecasts, inefficient warehousing and transportation, and increased product demands (especially cucumbers). Reiner and his team are focusing on prevention for the “Appetite” research project, which will run until 2025. The goal is to reduce food waste by 10 percent by 2030 through artificial intelligence-driven forecasting, simulation and optimization methods.

Food Savers
Until then, here are a few food waste prevention initiatives that save still usable food in one way or another:

Rescued and Fermented. Simon Baur von Krut uses live bacterial cultures to refine surplus produce from Adamah Biohof or Biohof Lamm into kimchi. The company name Krut stands for “Surkrut,” the old High German term for sauerkraut.

Saved and boiled down. Since 2018, the Wiener Tafel and Erste Bank have been rescuing good fruit from disposal at the Großgrünmarkt and refining the sorted-out fruit into “Marmelade mit Sinn.” Under the guidance of Petra Gruber, chef and founder of “Petra’s Culinary Manufactory,” the fruits are cooked together by Tafel volunteers and asylum seekers.

Saved and transformed. The association Unverschwendet, led by siblings Cornelia and Andreas Diesenreiter, has been producing jams, syrups, chutneys, pickles, sweet-and-sour, sauces and much more from surplus fruit, vegetables and herbs from the farm since 2016. Since last fall, you can also find some Unverschwendet products in Hofer stores under the brand “Rettenswert.”

Saved and collected. This association also focuses on a resource-saving lifestyle: the Viennese Bread Pilots collect baked goods from bakeries the day before and pass them on at Yppenmarkt and Tüwi.

Saved and sold. Food of impeccable quality is thrown away along the entire value chain for various reasons. In Lower Austria, it is given a second chance at ten Soogut social markets and via four mobile outlets. The first market was opened in St. Pölten in 2004.

Rescued and surprised. With the help of the Too Good To Go app, users can buy surplus food cheaply from restaurants, bakeries, hotels and stores in their area. At the end of August 2019, a small Greißler in Vienna’s third district sold the first Surprise Sackl.

Rescued and shared. Since 2012, the food-sharing movement has been saving tons of good food from trash daily. Voluntarily and free of charge, they are distributed to acquaintances, the neighbourhood, homeless shelters, etc. In the meantime, more than 130,000 people from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are volunteering as food rescuers by picking up overproduced food from bakeries, markets and wholesalers and passing it on.

Saved and served up. The “Team Österreich Tafel” receives food donations such as bread, fruit, vegetables or other items and, case-by-case basis, hygiene products from supermarkets, farmers and other producers. These are picked up and distributed by volunteers. Food is served every Saturday at Safargasse 4 at 1030 Vienna in Vienna.

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