OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Food waste prevention in retail galvanzing the existing platform of the leading retailers (WRI's 10x20x30) and proven innovative solutions

Solving Food Waste, the most impactful way of reducing GHGs, malnutrition and threats to biodiversity requires innovation of the food system

Photo of David Kat
6 4

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

nlmtd bv of The Netherlands.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Unicef Netherlands World Resources Institute (and its 10x20x30 initiative)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

The Netherlands

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The Netherlands

What country is your selected Place located in?

The Netherlands

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The Netherlands is in our view an effective starting point, a small territory, with a high concentration of relevant players. Being the 2nd food exporter of the world, as well as an innovative retail environment, home to one of the world’s leading retailers (Ahold) and food producers (Unilever). The National Geographic calls the Netherlands "The little country that feeds the world". But this food system also causes the climate crisis and we want to solve that at the source. As the Dutch saying goes: "Don't mop with the tap running". And clearly, The Netherlands is were a large part of GHGs emissions of the food system originate.

Some of our experience and our network has been built in this small and prolific country. David Kat as an hands-on investor at Wasteless, prior to starting, analyzed the food system to find out where data could make the biggest impact. Reducing GHGs, due to its inherently volatile nature, can be realized anywhere on the planet. And choosing the most effective system to realize this in, renders the largest effect.

One of the examples of technology to innovate and repair the foodsystem is Wasteless. Its founders come from Data for Food background, and sold their IoT company to AB Inbev. With a successful food waste reduction program for the beer industry, they wanted to now make an impact in the wider food industry.

nlmtd has run project around the world, but is also based in the Netherlands. A number of its key staff, with dozens of years of executive experience at various stages food system are also in The Netherlands.

With Ahold's HQ just 7 kilometers from the headquarters of Wasteless in Europe, of nlmtd (that runs the pilots to prove the host of solutions including Wasteless) and of our consultancy partners CapGemini, Deloitte, BCG, Cognizant and others in the Netherlands, some of which have a global CSR role.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

First of all, The Netherlands is a fairly small country, where tremendous impact can be made. The food system, responsible for 25% of all GHG emissions, offers some of the most important keys to the systematic change that is needed to ensure food safety for billions of people in developing countries. Wasteless intends to tackle the problem at the source. Or, as we say it in Dutch “Stop mopping with the tap running”. Reducing food waste offers the most impactful solution to drawing down carbon emissions. Starting at the source, we can ensure that we stop 30% or more of all efforts (and resources) in the food system being wasted. The recent initiative of the World Resources Institute, 10x20x30 offers a unique opportunity to start something in this small country, with a tremendous effect with the leading retailers, before expanding to the wider retail industry. 

During this year’s Climate Week, alongside the UN General Assembly, the World Resources Institute announced the 10x20x30 initiative. 10 of the biggest retailers, committed to bringing their 20 largest suppliers, to halve food waste by 2030. We need to bring technology into the equation, because we know (and ReFED confirms) that existing practices will not bring us closer to that goal. Starting with Ahold, the Netherlands based multinational retailer, we have built an innovation program, with NLTMD and The Next Web (a Financial Times owned tech conference). In a first run, we will fund Wasteless’ introduction into this programme. 

This first run, will enable these 10 largest retailers to run 3 pilots each, with other tech solutions, in 2020 and present this at the Sustainable Retail Summit in Amsterdam in November 2020, as well as at the Consumer Goods Forum. As writes: “A third of the food raised or prepared does not make it from farm or factory to fork. Producing uneaten food squanders a whole host of resources—seeds, water, energy, land, fertilizer, hours of labor, financial capital—and generates greenhouse gases at every stage—including methane when organic matter lands in the global rubbish bin. 

The food we waste is responsible for roughly 8 percent of global emissions. Losing food to one waste heap or another is an issue in both high- and low-income countries. In places where income is low, wastage is generally unintentional and occurs earlier in the supply chain—food rots on farms or spoils during storage or distribution. In regions of higher income, willful food waste dominates farther along the supply chain. Retailers and consumers reject food based on bumps, bruises, and coloring, or simply order, buy, and serve too much. In fact, Drawdown writes that food waste reduction is the one of the most impactful ways to reduce GHGs, to stop deforestation for additional farmland. Food waste prevention contributes to food security in a number of ways. Repairing the food system will protect vulnerable nature, as less fertile soil will be turned into agricultural lands.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

There are numerous and varied ways to address key waste points. In higher-income regions, major interventions are needed at retail and consumer levels. National food-waste targets and policies can encourage widespread change. Beyond addressing emissions, these efforts can also help to meet future food demand. The challenges, as Wageningen found, to reduce food waste in The Netherlands are exemplary for this blight in the developed world. Food Waste is actually a $3,8 trillion problem. The entire value of the Food System is $10 trillion.... that's so out of wack, we need to stem this at the source.

Solving it offers opportunities totaling $700B annually. Slashing waste is one of the most impactful measures against climate change, malnutrition and loss of bio diversity.

As for the current problems, in 2020,  

Environment: Holland is struggling with its commitment to halving carbon emissions. Literally struggling: farmers have gone out to block highways on numerous occasions, to demand more compensation for measures to drawdown. We need to pay fair prices for fresh food, rather than waste it.

Economics: retailers are stuck in their ways and have a hard time moving before consumers demand change. In plastic reduction this has happened, and results are encouraging. We drive consumer action, by using the price incentive. Repairing the food system, through efficient supply chain management - specifically dynamic pricing- is a $120B opportunity according to a recent BCG study. Consumers are rewarded, paying less for food with a slightly shorter shelf life.

Culture: with retailers, we start addressing food waste prevention where the farm meets the fork: thousands of producers, come together in several thousand grocery stores, to feed 17 million consumers. Food waste prevention awareness becomes actionable.

Technology: food waste cost is one of the biggest problems in retails. But solving it without technology has proven to be impossible and unviable. So waste is considered as the cost of doing business and factored into the prices. We offer proven track records in Data for Food. The best entry point is at groceries, where the farm meets the fork, where the impact can drive suppliers to become more sustainable as well as to create a scalable opportunity for consumers to act upon awareness.

Refed in its Action Guide writes that the solutions with the greatest profit potential are all Prevention solutions. For 10x20x30 to be successful. Impactful and Profitable solutions should therefor focus on technologies that prevent waste. In addition, those are measurable, enabling intermediate milestones on the road to 2030. Not 2050. 2030.

Policy: Reducing food waste is the 3rd most impactful measure to reverse climate change ( 40% of food produced is never consumed, making it responsible for 8% of all carbon emissions, a threat to the access of food of the 860 million people that are hungry as well as the single biggest cause for decreasing bio diversity.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Including its hidden cost, Food Waste is actually a $3.8 trillion problem, whereas the market value of the entire food system is $10 trillion*. It's the main cause for almost 800 million people being malnourished, the main threat to bio diversity, the single biggest (avoidable) source of carbon emissions. 

It's also a massive opportunity, to feed the current and growing world population. Solving Food Waste, offers opportunities totaling $700B annually**. Preventing waste is one of the most impactful measures against climate change***. ReFED writes that the solutions with the greatest profit potential are all prevention solutions****. 

We can not go on funding other solutions without solving food waste. That would amount to mopping with the tap running. For any other food innovation to be successful, impactful and profitable solutions should therefor focus on technologies that prevent waste. In addition, those should be measurable, enabling intermediate milestones on the road to 2030.


* Land use Coalition, Growing Better 2019, exhibit 8, page 38 and box 4 on the same page

** BCG Tackling FLW crisis, Aug 2018

*** Drawdown's 3rd most inpactful solution

**** ReFED Action Guide

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

In The Netherlands, some 17 million consumers shop 94% of their perishables, in just 5.000 supermarkets of 10 national chains. Albert Heijn, aka AH (the local label of Ahold Delhaize) has a 38% market share. (Ahold Delhaize's CEOs of course is one of the 11 signatures under the 10x20x30 initiative). A True Food Vision is Scalable, Impactful and Profitable. The best starting point of this vision is in a grocery retail chain: AH where some 20,000 growers meet 17 million consumers in just 5,000 outlets. But that could subsequently be scaled to all of the WRI's 10x20x30 signatories, that sell 4% of the world's grocery food sales.

This problem is so large and its causes fractured along the silos of the chain, that data and technology are required

To illustrate this fact, we'd like to mention Wasteless can add some $100,000 to the bottom line of a retailer per year. Food waste awareness and remuneration of the producers in the food system go hand in hand. Wasteless is one of the solutions that meets the above-mentioned characteristics of a True Food Vision, would possibly be one of hopefully dozens of initiatives that will be piloted and scaled at some 200 food suppliers. This is how we repair the food system that is truly broken (as Paul Polman told me yet again when we met today).

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Accelerating the 10x20x30 initiative 

The Urgency

“A comprehensive transformation of the food system is required”, read the opening lines of the recent WEF Food Systems Initiative. It continues to state that providing food poses “one of the greatest challenges of our time. We need fundamental change to entire food systems, and this means pressing ‘reset’. We need to innovate, to gain confidence in technology solutions, pilot and scale them fast.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) recently launched the 10x20x30 initiative: 10 of the world’s largest food retailers, committing to engage their 20 key suppliers to halve food waste by 2030. 10x20x30 of course refers to SDG 12.3, that calls for halving food waste by 2030. 10x20x30 is currently focused on best practices: retailers learning from each other and transferring knowledge onto suppliers, relying mostly on sharing process efficiencies.

It’s hard to overestimate the impact of these 10 retailers: combined they sell some 4% of all global retail food sales. This makes it even more important to achieve the ambition of halving food waste over the course of next ten years. We need to set clear intermediate milestones, realise early results and start showing double digit food waste reductions soon. As current practices will mostly bring marginal increments, solutions already in use do not scale quite fast enough for the ambitious 2030 timeline. We need to innovate in order to leapfrog.10x20x30 needs momentum early on, especially through innovative technologies, to positively impact the entire food system.

Corporate Innovation

We will not achieve these goals by increased efficiency alone and indeed transformational innovation in the food value chain is required. 80% of corporates believe that startups and scale-ups can have a positive impact on a corporate’s approach to innovation. We would like to help seize this opportunity.

Our organization is committed, equipped and experienced to make impact, by accelerating corporate innovation together through facilitating meaningful innovation pilots, in scouting and sourcing globally the very best solutions for the corporate challenges of the 10x20x30 partners. This is an important stepstone in accelerating innovation and the 10x20x30 initiative in order the achieve meaningful and ambitious targets.

The Opportunity

After ideation with WRI, Dutch innovation-expert nlmtd offer you a six-month innovation program to reduce food waste, building on our proven method that accelerates corporate innovation. The Food Vision Prize will be the catalyst to bringing the commitment to the 10x20x30 initiative into practice, by joining this program. Your support will be able to get results from your innovation challenges that will reduce food waste. We will work on the innovation challenge you will have identified. Or a subject that you want to join forces with any of your suppliers on, and innovate together on your innovation challenges. All partners in the program will get ample opportunity to learn together through the process. Depending on your preference, these pilot programs can be either confidential or shared among the participants.

The Program

With your support, retailers will obtain actionable results on beneficial food waste prevention technologies, in a six-month program. And this will drive other retailers to act on food waste as well.

This program will bring participating partners invaluable hands-on experience with some of the world’s best technology solutions, for the key challenges the retail and its partners identify, in pilots that aim to yield concrete results. The program includes three intensive facilitated 1-week sessions in a 100-day collaboration:

1. Define key challenges per partner and across the 10x20x30 Initiative

2. Source global leading proven solutions for these challenges

3. Select the most relevant solution in live deep dives and shape the collaboration

4. 100 Days pilot facilitation supported by experts in corporate startup & scaleup collaborations

5. Celebrate and learn about all collaborations and insights after the 100-day period.


Unique benefits

The program and its methodology facilitates not only the best proven solutions for your innovation challenge, but also uniquely offers you to:

  • Position your brand as a sustainability frontrunner as you engage with the most innovative proven solutions from around the world
  • Get insight and market intelligence of the innovation and technology landscape in the food waste domain around the world
  • Create platforms to inspire others (including visibility at TNW, FT, World Economic Forum)
  • Assess corporate venturing options of the most successful pilots, which is your due dilligence and measure of success
  • Collaborate and innovate together through the process, where organizations will work together in new ways to be resilient and overcome massive challenges.


Case studies

The methodology of sourcing technology solutions that answers corporate challenges, and to pilot the technology and collaborations for impact and scale was the core of the ISS open innovation program. ISS, a global leader in facility services, facilitated a pilot for their customer Barclays on food waste together with the selected solution of Winnow. This is a strong case of parties learning together and accelerating innovation through corporate startup collaboration. The results exceeded the expectations, in terms of actual food waste, collaboration learnings and fit for innovation. Marc Zornes of Winnow: <insert quote of Winnow>


At this early stage of this important initiative to support the 10x20x30 initiative and goals, nlmtd is already obtaining the support of industry leaders, Champions 12.3 and Friends of the Champions 12.3. Unicef Netherlands is on record that they will support our initiative and our communications about it in stores and elsewhere. We have several business leaders that will drive this too, including the Champions 12.3 


Currently we are at the stage of on-boarding partners and supporting organizations that make this coalition of the willing happen. Our ambition is to start the six-month program in April 2020. We are also aware of important gatherings around the world where we will announce and involve the community in this program e.g. TNW conference (June 18 and 19), Leipzig Summit EU & China (September) UN Climate Week (late September), COP26 and World Economic Forum in 2021 to share the collaborations and forthcoming results. [DK1]

Call to Action

To yield results from the 10x20x30 initiative, we will build on the commitment of the participants and ask you to become the catalyst of the program where we define retailers' challenges for the six-months acceleration program to catalyze food waste prevention and for them to become an active member of this collaborative innovation program.

The Team

The core leadership team of the program consist of professionals dedicated the make meaningful impact. Marc Spronk is a seasoned corporate leader, transformation driver and international board advisor in the food and agriculture industry, David Kat long-time entrepreneur and innovator, passionate international food waste advocate and former VP of Wasteless (a food waste technology scaleup), and Herman Knevel a seasoned international corporate and open innovation expert, passionate to make meaningful impact through collaborative innovation and partnerships.

Our company nlmtd is an entrepreneur-driven Amsterdam based strategy and innovation consultancy that aims to make positive impact. We create future proof organizations, by helping organizations become nimble, smarter and more flexible. We are on a mission to create a future proof food value chain.

We collaborate with The Next Web (TNW), a Financial Times technology media company, with a flagship innovation conference that attracts 20K visitors each year, while its publications reach 10M readers every month across the globe. TNW has an excellent network, intelligence and capabilities to scout and source the best proven technologies for the program goals.

The food system is broken. It needs a complete overhaul, not just cute stop gaps. But scalable, impactful and profitable solutions. Only then will we be able to sustainably feed the planet. We do need to reduce waste at scale, and we do not have a lot of time for that, as every day, avoidable waste, reduces our chances of survival on this planet. Let's stem food waste at the source, where the farm meets the fork. With technological innovation in retail. There's no time to waste.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Prize partners


Join the conversation:

Photo of Constanza Castano

Hi David! Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!
I can see your 2050 Vision is not shared yet on the platform. What you have presented so far has great potential and it would be worth continuing. In order to complete your submission, we've built a very comprehensive Food Vision Prize Toolkit with a lot of information, activities, and guidelines. The Toolkit will help you refine your Switzerland 2050 Vision and make it systems-focused, community-centered and well informed for the future. Here is the link to the Prize Toolkit:
I look forward to seeing your Vision evolve through the coming days.

Photo of David Kat

Good morning Constanza - can I still add team members to my proposal. I've got Unicef, a retailer and others that want to go on record that they're part of this food waste prevention initiative...

Photo of Constanza Castano

Hi, David Kat ,
I just shared your question with our team coordinator Itika Gupta . I will answer you as soon as I have news.

Photo of Itika Gupta

Hey David Kat since the Open Submission is closed now, all the submissions and their content is locked. So you won't be able to add them to your submission. If its extremely critical for your team to publish their details in your submission you can let me know what text you'd like to add and where and I'll be happy to do so from the backend

View all comments