SUMMIT SPONSOR: Is Confusion the Last Unexplored Frontier of Food & Beverage Waste in 2024?


SUMMIT SPONSOR: Is Confusion the Last Unexplored Frontier of Food & Beverage Waste in 2024?

by: Adam Gauer

May 30, 2024

This is part of our Summit Sponsor Series, which features articles written by sponsors of the ReFED Food Waste Solutions Summit about the food waste work they are doing. All views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ReFED.

According to ReFED, consumers were responsible for 48.2% of surplus food waste in the United States in 2022. Other sectors—from farm to manufacturing to foodservice—generate a smaller portion of that, with all other sectors responsible for 51.7% of surplus food waste when combined together. This presents consumers—and businesses that provide solutions for end users of products—with a unique opportunity to innovate and make a difference in reducing downstream waste. It’s time for innovation to hit back hard at the loss and waste generated by the end users of products, especially considering that it’s at the end of the supply chain where products generally carry the highest carbon footprint. By the time a product gets to the consumer, the upstream components (production, manufacturing, and transportation) which typically carry the most emissions have been completed so any waste that can be eliminated at that point carries with it an outsized benefit in terms of the carbon impact. That’s where Plus Brand and the issue of confusion fit in.

A rapidly growing consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand, the mission of Plus Brand is to develop products and technologies that meaningfully improve the day-to-day well being of health conscious yet busy people through a focus on sustainable and easy-to-implement solutions. One such solution that has rocketed the company’s growth has come by exploring the void that exists when it comes to dealing with the unnecessary waste caused by confusion over mass-produced CPG products and to whom they belong.

You likely know the scenario all too well—take beverages as an example. Often when you are in a group setting, the beverages sold or served are the same brand and look identical. You put a beverage down, turn to engage in conversation, and then three seconds later turn back only to realize that others are also around, and you’re no longer sure which one is yours. It’s such a common occurrence that Heineken even ran a campaign perfectly illustrating the issue, warning consumers to be careful and to “socialize responsibly.” This issue of confusion over to whom a food or beverage product belongs has existed for as long as mass-produced CPGs have been around, and many consumers are readily able to share multiple anecdotes describing their experiences with this widespread problem. In fact, confusion-related beverage waste at a family gathering was exactly the catalyst that set Plus Brand off on the trail of creating a sustainable solution to the problem.

Why is it that confusion produces excess waste?

While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t start the concern of excess waste caused by confusion, it sure taught a master class on why we care about it. Think about how heightened our collective awareness became at that time when it came to making sure we didn’t touch or accidentally eat or drink from a product that belonged to someone else. We didn’t want to subject ourselves to a heightened risk of picking up a germ or a virus. That heightened awareness is something that hasn’t left many of us as we remain more aware of our surroundings. Most of us would rather leave a product unfinished and grab a new one than risk selecting the wrong one and picking up a germ or virus. As the saying goes, “health is wealth” and most of us don’t want to unnecessarily risk that wealth for any period of time. The result is that most of the time when groups are gathered and confusion inevitably rears its head, excess product and packaging waste is created.

Magnifying the issue is the simple fact that this confusion happens everywhere and to consumers young and old. From workplaces to schools, gyms, large events, and small social gatherings, confusion can happen anywhere.

Enter All-Scratch!® Technology

That was the genesis of the process that led Plus Brand to the development of its ground-breaking All-Scratch!® technology, a leading solution to eliminating the problem of confusion that leads to excess waste. A biodegradable ink technology, All-Scratch!® can be printed directly on the label of any CPG product substrate, whether plastic, aluminum, glass, or film. It allows the owner of a product to scratch their name, initials, a picture, or any identifying mark directly onto the label, producing a clear visual that communicates who owns the product. Resistant to water, ice, sun, heat, condensation, and mild rubbing, the unique patented technology is able to stand up to the conditions faced by most prepackaged food and beverage products.

Agua Plus alkaline water is a great example of how All-Scratch!® technology is being utilized to reduce waste in the bottled water segment. Better yet, the technology has application well beyond just bottled water and can be utilized to dramatically impact confusion-related waste across multiple product categories. Licensing of the technology allows other brands and products to enjoy the same benefits.

Data is King

To help guide efforts to address this food waste challenge, Plus Brand has commissioned an independent study of confusion and its impact on food loss and waste. This June, BCC Research will be releasing an industry-first market research report based upon a survey of 10,000 households. The report seeks to produce original data sets related to the impact of confusion in terms of how it contributes to food loss and waste, the frequency of the issue, as well as the industries and places where it is most likely to occur.

Those attending the 2024 ReFED Food Waste Solutions Summit will be among the first to receive a copy of this report just days after it is released. Plus Brand will be present at the event as a Gold and Scholarship sponsor and looks forward to connecting with participants across industries and government to discuss how this solution is creating waves and reducing unnecessary waste. Visitors to the booth will be able to touch and feel the All-Scratch!® solution and obtain their own copy of this latest research.

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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