Understanding the barriers and drivers to reduce store loss and food waste at Woolworths | Fight Food Waste CRC
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​Understanding the barriers and drivers to reduce store loss and food waste at Woolworths

The challenge

Food waste is a complex problem that is estimated to cost the Australian economy A$20 billion per year, as well as making a significant contribution to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. While households and primary production are reportedly responsible for the highest levels of food waste, food loss and waste remains a significant issue for the food retail sector in terms of financial costs, supply chain resilience and environmental corporate social responsibility. Despite this, supermarket in-store food waste is under-researched.

Woolworths has signed up to the national Fight Food Waste CRC to reduce food loss and waste in-store and in its farm-to-fork value chain. Despite some gains in food waste reduction, recent data suggests that performance across Woolworths’ store portfolio on instore food losses, food waste and food recovery can be improved. This collaboration between QUT food waste experts and Woolworths will systematically examine the in-store efficiencies that can be gained to reduce the food waste in Woolworths’ stores.

Our plan

This study will combine the use of in-store observations, interview analysis of policies and business processes and co-design workshops with key team members working in-store with the aim of:

  • understanding the barriers and drivers to reducing in-store food loss and waste
  • identifying opportunities and practices to support change and ultimately reduce food loss and waste instore.

Findings from this research can be used by Woolworths to introduce new business policies and process innovations, refine employee training, and reinforcement tools/incentives needed to engage with team members and reduce store loss and food waste. As a result, the anticipated outcomes of this project are:

  • a 50% reduction in the volume of food waste in-store
  • associated financial savings for Woolworths
  • an increase in the awareness, knowledge and motivation of store-based team members and subsequent implementation of store-based activities to reduce food waste
  • a reduction in the GHG emissions associated with a reduction of in-store food waste in Woolworth’s stores.

The ambition for this project is that it will provide evidence to enable Woolworths to amend and/or implement appropriate training, business processes, and policies, which in turn will lead to the ongoing halving of food waste in Woolworths’ stores in the 12 months following the completion of the project.


As this project progresses and achieves its milestones, we’ll share the good news on this page by adding information, links, images, interviews and more.


December 2020- July 2021

Project Leader

Dr Bree Hurst, QUT