Partnership is at the core of sustainable development bound under Sustainable Development Goal 17. In the food industry, long-term partnerships between value chain actors are essential to build a successful transition toward more sustainable practices. Typically, circular economy business models for the food industry in general, as well as food waste reduction (SDG 12.3) specifically, can’t be achieved without a multilateral commitment from all stakeholders.
Food waste is one of the most important issues within the food industry, accounting for about one third of the total agricultural production. For restaurants, this rate is estimated at 25%. Beyond the waste itself, the carbon footprint is also an issue. According to estimations from the World Resources Institute, food wastage would appear third if integrated into a country ranking of top GHG emitters, after the United States and China. As a provider of food in its hotels and restaurants, the worldwide hospitality brand Accor has long identified food waste as a material issue, with its hotels serving more than 150 million meals a year.
In 2016, Accor committed to reducing the food waste in its operation by 30% by 2020. They deployed a four-step strategy to:
For this final step, Accor decided to build partnerships with external stakeholders such as the start-up Too Good To Go. Created in 2016, this start-up’s goal is to reduce food waste through an app that connects users with businesses that have surplus food. Users pay their meal at a discount price and businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores and hotels can repurpose their unsold products before the end of the day.*
After committing to an ambitious food waste goal, it became important for Accor to identify and select the proper partner. In 2016 Accor was one of the first large companies to decide to implement the Too Good To Go app in its hotels. The beginning of this partnership matched a strong alignment for the two organizations:
A successful partnership can be assessed on the weight of its impact. Realizing the strong potential of this new solution for its hotels, Accor and Too Good To Go strengthened their partnership, evolving from a small initiative of a dozen hotels in France, to a large movement regrouping 650 hotels in 11 European countries. By May 2020, 450,000 meals were saved in total, which is the equivalent of 225 tons of waste prevented.
The two companies have developed a win-win partnership that is there to last, as revealed by the increase of hotels involved and meals saved in the past years. To go further with their cooperation and multiplicate its impact, they have also engaged in regular joint communications. Accor has also built a sustainable competitive advantage by diversifying its service offer and access to more than 18 million users of the Too Good To Go app.
At the end of 2019, 1,870 hotels under the Accor banner had implemented the “Introducing a program to combat food waste” project. 485 hotels with data allowing a precise management of food waste reduction were able to reduce food waste by 21% in 2019; 28% of those hotels reached the target of -30% and 12% had reduced their food waste by as much as 64%.
Key priorities for further progress in 2020:
1. Take the development further in Europe: From the 650 participating hotels today contributing to the reduction of food waste can be expanded to 1,400 hotels in Europe.
2. Extend the use of Too Good To Go to the various catering points and to all products: hot and cold buffet, restaurant, business meetings and, snacks. Except perishable products such as meat, seafood and fish, most foodstuffs can be resold if storage conditions have been complied with. Too Good To Go baskets can be offered for breakfasts and indeed for all meals, and for many other food products except pastries.
Inspired by Accor’s example of circular partnering but don’t know where to begin? Start with the development of a high-level roadmap for the implementation planning of your company’s sustainability strategy. Download the workshop template at the top of the page or contact Jan van der Kaaij, Managing Partner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or +34 6 82 04 83 01 for more information on how Finch & Beak can support you to accelerate your sustainability program.
*By 2020, Too Good To Go is a certified B Corp working in 15 countries with more than 22 million app installations. Next to Accor Hotels, Too Good To Go partners with 7Eleven, METRO, ALDI, IKEA, Starbucks and SushiShop. The company has re-sold 40.7 million meals which has saved 101,695 tons of CO2e.
Image source: Accor