Leveraging WRI partnerships and research, IKEA cut food waste by 54% across its 400 in-store restaurants.

The Challenge

Each year, one-third of all food produced by weight — equivalent to 24% of the world’s calories — goes uneaten. This puts unnecessary strain on the global food supply, exacerbates hunger and fuels climate change. If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the U.S.

Food loss and waste occurs in every part of the supply chain, so everyone has a role to play in addressing it. Due to their extensive reach and high level of visibility, major restaurant and retail chains like IKEA can help drive systemic change by setting ambitious food-waste reduction targets and sharing lessons learned.

WRI’s Role

Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals calls for halving the rate of food loss and waste by 2030. Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, WRI has produced research, tools and partnerships to support numerous multinational companies, including IKEA, in their food loss and waste reduction efforts.

IKEA joined WRI’s 10x20x30 initiative, which brings together 10+ of the world’s largest food retailers and providers, with each one activating at least 20 of its suppliers to halve food loss and waste by 2030. IKEA is a member of WRI’s Champions 12.3 Assembly, which convenes public and private sector leaders committed to tracking and measuring food waste and turning this knowledge into tangible action. And IKEA Food Services AB’s Managing Director was an early member to Champions 12.3, helping to promote efforts to halve food loss and waste in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.

Via Friends of Champions 12.3, IKEA engaged with Winnow Commercial Food Waste Solutions, using its smart scales and AI technology to collect data on what food is wasted and why to inform operational changes. It also partnered with Too Good to Go (another member of Friends of Champions 12.3) to make surplus food available at discounted prices via the Too Good to Go app. Throughout this effort, IKEA has used WRI’s Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard to monitor progress.

The Outcome

In 2022, Ingka group, IKEA’s largest retailer, announced that the company had cut food waste by 54% across all its iconic restaurants in 32 markets. This reduction is equivalent to saving more than 20 million meals. It also avoids 36,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year — equivalent to taking more than 8,000 cars off the road every year — and saves IKEA $37 million annually. This achievement shows that reducing food loss and waste is beneficial not only for people and the planet, but also for businesses’ bottom lines.

IKEA is the first global company to demonstrate that achieving Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is doable and economically beneficial. Other retailers, food producers and distributors can now learn from the company’s example to help bring a sustainable food system within reach.