Susanne Kendell
Institute of Market Analysis


Bundesallee 63
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5302
Fax: +49 531 596 5399

Efficient reduction of food waste in wholesale and retail trade


Shopping Trolley in Supermarket (c) khwaneigq -
Shopping Trolley in Supermarket (© khwaneigq -

Dialogue Forum on Wholesale and Retail Trade

Nearly 500,000 tons of food waste were generated in the German retail sector in 2019. We want to support the wholesale and retail sector to halve food waste by 2030.

Background and Objective

According to the Federal Government's National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction, total food waste is to be halved by 2030. In order to achieve this goal, all actors in the supply chain and consumers are called upon.

With the existing data basis in the wholesale and retail sector,the amounts of waste cannot be quantified reliably, which makes it difficult to set reduction targets. The aim of this project is therefore to quantify and analyse food waste in the wholesale and retail sector in order to map trends from 2015 onwards. Based on this, concrete measures will be developed to reduce food waste.


In order to promote the transfer of knowledge between science and the companys, project results are communicated within the framework of the Dialogue Forum for the wholesale and retail sector. This Forum is closely linked with the other sector-specific Dialogue Forums and the National Dialogue Forum. In addition, monitoring and accounting options will be developed in order to create benchmarks and thus to identify the progress of companies. Voluntary agreements will be made between the BMEL and the retail and wholesale companies as well as associations in order to achieve the goals formulated in the National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction.

Data and Methods

Initially, positive examples from Germany and neighbouring countries, documentation of research projects, expert interviews and the specialist literature served as a basis for information. In addition, actors from the wholesale and retail sector are involved who could provide a new database.

The calculations are based on voluntarily provided data on sales losses (markdowns) from 13 food retail and cash and carry companies represented by about 13,000 sales points. The participating companies cover a market share of the total food retail sector in Germany of about 35 %. Depreciation includes both food waste and redistributed food, e.g. food donations to social institutions or redistriubtion as animal feed, as well as breakage and loss. The extrapolation of food waste in the German food retail sector is based on very high data quality; with markdown data of partly very large companies and turnover figures of the entire sector.

Preliminary Results

Our analyses of the entire sector are not only aimed at gaining scientific knowledge and providing sound, science-based policy advice, they are also intended to raise society's awareness of the issue.

In the food retail sector in Germany, 500,000 tonnes of food are sorted out as waste every year. The data not only included data from the organised retail sector, i.e. supermarkets, discounters and hypermarkets, but also other retailers such as drugstores, bakeries, butchers, online retailers, weekly markets or petrol stations.

Supermarkets, discounters and hypermarkets account for 290,000 tonnes, while other retailers add another 210,000 tonnes. In the so-called "Baseline 2015" study by the Thünen Institute, which is to serve as a starting point and basis for discussions for the voluntary agreements, only hypermarkets, discounters and supermarkets as well as markets in wholesale were considered.

A differentiation of food waste from food donations and other redistribution (e.g. to animal feed), is currently only possible with the help of estimates due to data gaps - expert estimate for this report: 30% of losses are donated. In the course of further work, these quantities and the causes of losses must be analysed in order to derive reduction measures.

Findings on sustainable measures are to be optimised and disseminated through exchange in the Dialogue Forum. As a result, and supported by voluntary agreements of the trading companies with political bodies, food waste is to be reduced over the next three years.

Links and Downloads

Lebensmittelwertschätzen - Dialogforum Groß- und Einzelhandel

CSCP - Dialogfoum Groß- und Einzelhandel

Beteiligungserklärung der Teilnehmenden

Pressemitteilung - Handel unterzeichnet Erklärung: Lebensmittelverschwendung reduzieren

Interim Report


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau (BÖLN)
    (national, öffentlich)


8.2019 - 8.2022

More Information

Projekt type:
Project funding number: 2819NA019
Funding program: Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau und andere Formen nachhaltiger Landwirtschaft (BÖLN)
Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

Results 1 - 5 of 7

Begin   back   next   end

  1. Orr L, Schmidt TG (2021) Lebensmittelabfälle im Handel reduzieren. Braunschweig: Thünen-Institut für Marktanalyse, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2021/08, DOI:10.3220/PB1615472542000
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 556 kb
  2. Schmidt TG, Orr L (2021) Monitoring der Lebensmittelabfälle im Groß- und Einzelhandel in Deutschland 2019: Daten des Lebensmitteleinzelhandels. Braunschweig: Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, 31 p, Thünen Working Paper 168, DOI:10.3220/WP1613554682000
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 776 kb
  3. Schmidt TG, Orr L (2021) Monitoring food waste in the wholesale and retail sector in Germany 2019: Food retail data. Braunschweig: Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut, 29 p, Thünen Working Paper 168a, DOI:10.3220/WP1613555002000
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 692 kb
  4. Orr L, Schmidt TG (2021) Reducing food waste in retail. Braunschweig: Thünen Institute of Market Analysis, 2 p, Project Brief Thünen Inst 2021/08a, DOI:10.3220/PB1615797125000
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 455 kb
  5. Schmidt TG, Orr L (2020) Lebensmittelabfälle - Messen ist der erste Schritt zu wirksamen Reduzierungsmaßnahmen [online]. Recht Z Eur Lebensmittelrecht(1):34-37, zu finden in <> [zitiert am 01.04.2020], DOI:10.23789/1868-0763-2020-1-30

Results 1 - 5 of 7

Begin   back   next   end