The Russian biggest food retailer Magnit has rolled out plans to begin selling expired and damaged food to feed and fertilizer producers instead of disposing them at landfills, the company said in a statement.
“We started looking for buyers for food products that have lost their consumer properties. As part of this project, we have developed a scheme to write off expired products that continue to have [nutrition] value,” Magnit said in a statement.
The pilot project of passing food waste to animal feed has already been started in Moscow. If it proves to be successful, the company will scale it up. Magnit claimed that the project was supported by the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry.
Using expired food in feed and fertiliser production was legally approved in Russia in 2020. However, no feed company has reported about massively incorporating food waste into its production chain yet.
Selling expired products to customers even at a deep discount or donating them to charity is strictly prohibited by law in Russia, but reimbursable recycling is the right rational step to reduce the environmental impact of food waste, Igor Karavaev, chairman of the Association of Retail Companies (AKORT), told to the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
AKORT estimated that nearly 7% of food is lost in the retail turnover, adding that 700,000 tonnes of food waste per year are generated only among its members. Of this, 25% falls on cakes, dairy gastronomy, deli meats, sausages and groceries, while another 30% – on meat, fish and poultry, and 45% – on fruits and vegetables.
Farm animals gain muscle mass from what they consume…
Sergei Mikhnyuk, executive director of the National Feed Union, commented that not all products manufactured and sold in retail chains in Russia could be used as secondary raw materials for feed production.
“Farm animals gain muscle mass from what they consume, and if there is expired jelly or cake in the store, what should we do with them? In expired vegetables, the process of rotting begins, while we have sterile production,” Mikhnyuk said, adding that due to these challenges for feed producers, it might be easier not to deal with food waste at all.
Mikhnyuk also added that the initiative to sell expired products looked like an attempt to shift the responsibility for food waste disposal, with all its logistical or legal shortcomings, to the feed industry.