Conversion to ecology - what does it cost?

Published online
08 Nov 2017
Content type

Thorsen, A. V. & Jensen, J. D.

Publication language
Denmark & Nordic Countries


A study from DTU FOOD in 2014 showed that the food waste could be significantly reduced in connection with an organic conversion - the study did not show the economic consequences of the organic conversion. Therefore, the present study has the objective to * identify factors and data sources that may shed light on the economic consequences of an organic conversion in selected public kitchens, * calculate the economic impact of an organic conversion, and * determine the process that the selected kitchens have been through and which determines the economic impact in the short and long term. This study consists of three parts, which were conducted from August 2013 to May 2015: * Part 1. A collection of data for the economic analysis, including the food waste measurements * Part 2. A calculation of the costs before and after the organic conversion * Part 3. A qualitative description of the organic conversion process The results from the measurements of the three types of food waste (production waste, serving waste and plate waste) showed that canteen A reduced serving and plate waste by 33.9 kg/day from before to after the organic conversion, while canteen B reduced serving and plate waste by 21.6 kg/day. Production waste (only measured in canteen B) was reduced from 24.2% to 2.8% of the commodity consumption. The additional charge on organic products compared to conventional products led to an increase in ingredient costs of 1 and 11 percent, respectively in the two canteens for the period August-October 2013 to August-October 2014. In canteen A, the relatively modest cost increase could be explained by the relatively limited increase in the percentage of organic procurement from 28 to 35 percent during the measurement period (August-October) from 2013 to 2014 (which in turn is due to canteen A beginning to increase the organic procurement already in September 2013), whereas the percentage of organic procurement rose from 8 to 48% in canteen B during the same period. Adjusting for this, the additional charge for organic procurement contributed with an increase of approximately 8% of ingredient costs in canteen A. According to the calculations, reducing food waste is estimated to have potentially contributed to a reduction in ingredient costs by up to 16% in canteen A and 13% in canteen B. The calculations thus suggest that especially an increased focus on food waste may have been able to offset the impact of higher prices for organic procurement variants compared with conventional variants, in the two considered canteens. For the two canteens, the cost of ingredients increased overall by 22 and 12 percent in real terms (taking into account the general trend in prices, which was calculated in the two canteens to 2 and 1 percent, respectively). The qualitative analysis shows that both canteens succeeded to hold on to the organic conversion having an organic percentage on 30 corresponding to a bronze label at the 1-year follow-up measurements. Canteen A has a slight decrease in organic conversion during the spring of 2014, while the canteen B has increased the organic share since 1-year follow-up measurements. In February 2015 canteen B received the organic bronze label for an organic percentage on 30 and has since increased the organic share, and in the spring of 2015 canteen B is close to the silver label (60%). Canteen B has reorganized the menu plan and has a reduced supply on the buffet, but with variation over the week. In contrast, canteen A largely maintained the menu plan and the buffet, with the exception that Friday's menu depends on the week's food waste.

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