The holiday season is always a time of reflection, and as we continue into Spoiler Alert’s second year of business, it’s helpful to think about the progress being made in food waste reduction locally, nationally, and globally.
Last year, we recapped the top 12 food waste stories from 2015. This year, we’re exploring the top stories on a month-by-month breakdown. From ugly produce’s appearance on Shark Tank, to the release of the ReFED report, to the first ad campaign directed at a consumer audience, it’s clear that food waste is only becoming more top-of-mind for those in the food industry and the general public.
Here are some of our favorite stories in food waste from 2016. Enjoy!
- A new initiative called Champions 12.3 is announced at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, aiming to reduce global food waste by 50% by 2030. Additionally, the Rockefeller Foundation announces a $130 million initiative to support these reduction efforts.
- Spoiler Alert CEO Ricky Ashenfelter is profiled by his undergraduate alma mater, Georgetown University.
- Our friends at Hungry Harvest, a CSA of recovered ugly fruits and vegetables, appears on Shark Tank, receiving $100,000 from Shark Tank investor Robert Herjavec.
Photo credit: Tyler Golden/ABC
- France becomes the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing away unsold food, instead requiring them by law to donate the excess to local charities.
- Spoiler Alert is one of fourteen companies accepted into the spring cohort of Techstars Boston, one of the leading startup accelerator programs in the world.
- Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic releases a short documentary on how misleading date labels on food products (such as “best by” and “sell by” dates contribute to food waste in America.
- Ugly fruits and vegetables make the cover story of National Geographic.
- Spoiler Alert is featured in NRDC’s onEarth magazine, highlighting a transaction of 4,700 strawberries that were rescued through our platform.
- Starbucks announces that they will donate all of their unsold food from over 7,000 U.S. locations by March 2017.
- The ReFED (Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data) roadmap is released, the first-ever national economic study and plan that outlines 27 action steps to reduce food waste at scale.
- Imperfect Produce announces that they will team up with Whole Foods to sell ugly produce in a pilot program.
- Following the precedent set by France, Italy proposes a law in which supermarkets would receive a reduction in rubbish taxes in order to increase food donations.
- The Ad Council (creators of Smokey the Bear) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) launch a national ad campaign called “Save the Food” to bring consumer attention to the issue of food waste and attempt to change household behavior.
- Newsweek highlights the impact of food waste on climate change, a timely article released right before Earth Day.
- Target experiments with discounting food that is closer to its expiration date, which could have big implications for grocery store food waste and consumer education.
Photo Credit: The Boston Globe
- Spoiler Alert completes the 10th Techstars Boston program by participating in a pitch event known as Demo Day. We were named the company with the “biggest potential impact” by Xconomy.
- Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal introduce the Food Date Labeling Act in an effort to standardize date labels such as “use by,” “sell by,” and “best by.”
Photo credit: Noel Hendrickson | Getty Images
- The Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic, EPA, and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) host the Reduce and Recover: Save Food for People Conference on June 27-29, where nearly 350 attendees from the food waste industry gathered to discuss how to reduce food waste 50% by 2030.
- A partnership of leading international organizations, driven by the World Resources Institute, announce the launch of a first-ever global standard to measure food loss and waste.
- Spoiler Alert co-founder Emily Malina speaks on a panel about food waste at the Maine Startup and Create Week in Portland, ME, where we have a dozen farms and nonprofits piloting our program.
- Huffington Post launches their Reclaim campaign to promote awareness about food waste and cosmetically imperfect produce.
- Walmart, America’s largest grocer, announces that they will begin selling ugly produce, starting with discounted, weather-dented apples in 300 stores in Florida.
- Spoiler Alert publishes a new resource — A Beginner’s Guide to Food Waste. The guide is intended to be an overview of the current food waste landscape. It can serve as a primer for those looking for a quick guide to government calls to action, legislation, and online awareness campaigns.
- The EPA reveals a “Call to Action by Stakeholders” website to identify current opportunities and challenges in reducing food loss and waste in the United States.
- Two Spoiler Alert co-founders travel to New Orleans to participate in the Global Sustainability Summit’s Food Waste Startup Challenge and Innovation Zone. The conference is hosted by the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association.
- A group of international chefs launch an effort to tackle the widespread hunger problem in Rio de Janeiro by cooking surplus food donated from the Olympic Village and serving it to impoverished residents.
Photo credit: The Indepedent
- Food waste takes center stage at the Democratic National Convention by using an app to donate leftover food from the event.
- The New York Times features food waste in their Room for Debate column, discussing , “How can the enormous amount of wasted food in the United States be reduced?” Our team was honored to be a voice in the dialogue with an op-ed written by two of our founders.
- When an unexpected excess of organic eggs occurs at The Greater Boston Food Bank, Spoiler Alert helps find a home for nearly 11,000 eggs in under 3 hours.
- The first-ever national food waste reduction goal in the United States celebrates its one-year anniversary.
- The UK’s first “food waste supermarket” opens, where customers can purchase surplus food that would have otherwise been thrown out on a “pay as you feel” pricing model.
Photo credit: The Independent
- Blue Apron finds that 62% less food is wasted at Blue Apron's food prep facility and by consumers than the same meals cooked with grocery store ingredients.
- Spoiler Alert is one of ten finalists for the $1 Million Change the World competition at the Forbes Under 30 Summit, in which over 1,000 start-ups applied and ten companies had the opportunity to pitch to a panel of esteemed judges, including Ashton Kutcher.
- The United States experiences a surplus of 1.2 billion pounds of cheese leading the USDA to purchase the excess for $20 million and donate to food banks and pantries.
- The inaugural class of U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions is revealed, with 15 food businesses and organizations pledging concrete steps to reduce food waste and loss 50% by 2030.
- Spoiler Alert announces a $2.5 million fundraising round and shares information about their work with Sysco Corporation, the nation’s largest food distributor. The Greater Boston Food Bank also shares how they use Spoiler Alert to distribute surplus product to local nonprofits.
- Canada unveils a national plan to reduce food waste through new government policies, innovation in technology and community infrastructure, and shifting consumer behavior.
- A Danish supermarket selling expired food opens a second branch, where the store’s profits go to charity.
Photo credit: Soren Bidstrup/AFP/Getty Images
- The USDA releases updated information on food product labeling, encouraging food manufacturers and retailers to use a "Best If Used By" date label.
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoes a bill that would have rewarded farmers for their donations with a tax credit of up to $5,000.
- Spoiler Alert hosts the “12 Days of Food Rescue” social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter to highlight twelve notable transactions from the platform.
- Waste Dive reports that food donation in Vermont increased 40% between 2015 and 2016, with a significant increase in fresher items such as fruits, vegetables and frozen meat.
Our team wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season. We look forward to great things to come in 2017!