A pioneer in making use of industrial surplus food

Opinion 15.03.2019

We at Fazer Bakeries want our surplus raw materials to end up being used by people, not as biofuel in a car’s fuel tank. That is why we launched a unique food loss trial as a part of the Urban Food project.

 

Finns throw away 460 million kilos of edible food each year, and industry accounts for about 20 percent of it. In spring 2019, as the first company in Finland, Fazer Bakeries is selling raw material left over from production, such as cricket flour and honeyed syrup. We are using the open Korjuu.com platform for selling, through which private persons and small companies can buy surplus raw materials. We launched the trial at the beginning of February and it will end at the end of April.

As the trial’s project manager and Fazer Bakeries’ product development and innovation manager, I think about how we can more effectively arouse the customer’s interest. While we strive to optimise raw material production to the best of our ability, some products are inevitably left over. It is not easy to process them into new products. Most of the surplus includes seasonal or discontinued products. However, as a responsible actor, we want to be able to use the remainder of our raw material. At the moment, our organic food loss is used to make biofuel, but it would be more efficient and ecological if the raw material meant for human consumption was used for human nutrition instead.

The surplus batches are so big that they cannot be sold to consumers as they are. One of the aims of this trial is to develop ways in which a shipping container full of raw material can be sold in smaller batches of a few hundred grams, for example. There are a huge number of home bakers who may be interested in Fazer Bakeries’ surplus materials – especially since they may not even be available in grocery stores.

In addition to the Korjuu platform, we are also working together with From Waste to Taste ry, Apetit and Palvelukeskus Oy in the surplus sales trial. Already in the early stages of the trial it was clear that one of the best fruits of the Urban Food project is a great network of various actors. The whole group is looking for genuine solutions that others have not yet tested. I have been very pleased that we get to have diverse discussions with various parties and have gotten to know actors with whom we may not have collaborated without the trial.

It would be wonderful if this spring’s trial led to the creation of an even stronger collaboration network. It would provide all of us a clearer picture of the end users, and the goods would be snapped up instead of someone buying something by chance from a public platform. The trial will also give us a clearer picture of whether the surplus material sales pilot has potential for a continuous model, perhaps an application that would automatically receive information on upcoming batches from a production management system.

The financial benefit of this project is not our first concern. Of course, we want some kind of business to be created, but there’s something more important: We want to create a channel from which the raw material ends up being used by someone who really wants it. Our ambition is therefore for the pilot to become more of a standard than a trial. We will continue developing our food loss operations after the trial.

This project is about courage and transparency. People are aware that food loss occurs, and something needs to be done. We want to really take the initiative to solve the problem.