Premier Foods Case Study - Food Waste

Premier is one of Britain's biggest listed food companies, responsible for the manufacture of brands such as Ambrosia, Homepride and Mr Kipling. Premier have been working for years to eliminate food waste, reduce it, or move food waste up the food hierarchy to redistribution or animal feed and, in 2017, made the commitment to reduce their food waste in their own operations by 50% by 2030.

In the last 12 months, Premier have identified a number of opportunities to drive down food waste. One project, completed in early 2018 at their Ashford site, has so far removed over 350 tonnes of salt food waste from anaerobic digestion disposal. The salt is cleaned and recycled back into salt that can be used as a water softener in the boiler systems.

Premier have also been actively working to increase food redistribution through Company Shop and their charity, Community Shop. This has enabled them to increase their food redistribution by 36% during the calendar year to 31 December 2017 compared to 2016. Further increases in food redistribution are planned, and Premier have set the target to more than double the tonnage of food redistributed in 2018 compared to 2017.

Further opportunities have been identified in Premier's dairy grocery waste. Premier are in discussion with potential partners to redirect dairy food waste from their Devon Creamery into animal feed. Currently, faulty cans of custard and rice pudding are sent into anaerobic digestion disposal because the food product is difficult to remove. Premier believe it would be possible to remove the food from its packaging, use it as animal feed, and then recycle the packaging.

As well the work demonstrated above, in a bold new step for the food industry, Premier have published their 2017 calendar year food waste figures across their 8 UK manufacturing sites (not including Knighton Foods) for Champions 12.3. The total food production for this period was 336,668 tonnes, with overall food waste equating to 8,012 tonnes; this equates to 2.4% of food produced. The 8,012 tonnes of waste is split between anaerobic digestion and land injection of effluent sludge. As one of the first food companies to publish, Premier hope that other food companies follow their lead and join in with measurement, reporting and action.

“Food waste is one of our top environmental priorities. The work we have carried out with our salt and increasing redistribution, and the we have planned, will go a long way to achieving the 20% reduction in food waste by 2025. Until you measure and then question what happens to your food waste, it is difficult to act and improve.”

Lee Haughton Company Environmental Management and Compliance Coordinator