ReFed-Sorting the Food Waste

ReFed-Sorting the Food Waste
Case Code: BECG173
Case Length: 19 Pages
Period: 2020
Pub Date: 2022
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.300
Organization: Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data
Industry: Government & Non-Profit Organisations
Countries: United States
Themes: Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability
ReFed-Sorting the Food Waste
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


Food loss and waste is a pressing issue globally with one third of global food production going to waste. USA was the biggest producer of food waste and loss with 35% of total food in the country going uneaten. The COVID-19 pandemic further increased the food waste as movement restrictions during the pandemic caused perishables like eggs and milk to rot in landfills.

Food waste and loss happened throughout the food supply chain – farm, packaging, processing, storing, distribution, retail store as well as at consumer end. But in developed countries major food waste and loss happened at the retailer or the consumer end. Average American family of four threw away $2,275 worth of food each year.

Food waste and loss was also a major threat to the environment for multiple reasons. Surplus food in USA was responsible for 4% of the total Green House Gas Emissions in the country. Rotting food in the landfills emitted methane, a greenhouse gas that was 28 to 36 times more potent than carbon produced my smoke. Surplus food also consumed multiple natural resources like 14% of freshwater and 18% of cropland in USA in the year 2019. Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFed) was a multi-stakeholder non -profit organization in the USA. It was formed with the aim of ending food loss and waste across the food system in USA. ReFed was a collaboration of more than 30 business, government, investor, foundation and non-profit leaders.

ReFed introduced two roadmaps - “A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent” in 2016 and “Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50%” in 2021 to guide stakeholders of food supply chain, governments, investors and non profit organizations towards reduction in food loss and waste. ReFed emphasized that solution to food waste reduction would come through a thorough analysis of data in the field. And so it launched “Insights Engine” in 2021. Insights engine was an interactive online database that provided a complete picture of the waste produced at every step of food supply chain in US, the solutions being implemented to reduce the waste and the impact of those solutions.

ReFed was involved in many other activities to promote reduction in food loss and waste. It arranged and managed investment needed from public, private, and philanthropic capital till 2030 to implement food waste solutions. It also offered advisory services to many funders and businesses. ReFed worked in collaboration with multiple government and non-government organizations like World Wild Life Fund (WWF), Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Walmart Foundation, The Fink Family Foundation, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger Zero Waste Foundation, etc.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • To Understand the global food waste problem, and examine how food is wasted throughout the supply chain.
  • To evaluate the impact of food waste and examine a few solutions for the problem.
  • To analyse the role of collaborative partnerships in addressing the challenge of food waste.
  • To suggest viable solutions to tackle food waste.



ReFed; SDG; Food Waste; Sustainability; Environmental Management; Collaboration; public administration; economic development; environmental management; sustainability program

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