Girl in striped yellow t-shirt holding a carrot stick and standing next to a burger and a pile of carrot and cucumber sticks.

Food is precious. How can we avoid wasting it?

Did you know that one-third of all food harvested and produced worldwide is lost or wasted every day? With 463 IKEA stores in 63 markets worldwide, we have both the scale and the will to make a difference.

Food has always been an important part of our business. Our first restaurant opened in 1959, and today about 680 million people enjoy our food offer around the world. With this size comes big responsibility – and an opportunity. Since 2017, we have cut the production food waste by 46%, which equals close to 15 million meals not thrown away. Our goal is to cut production food waste in IKEA restaurants, bistros and Swedish Food Markets around the world by 50% by the end of 2022. This is an essential step on our journey to become circular and climate positive by 2030.

Today, our aim is to cut our production food waste in half by the end of 2022 in all IKEA stores globally.

Why measure every meal?

The first step was to start measuring food waste in IKEA restaurants, bistros and Swedish Food Markets around the world. Using a smart scale with a touch screen, co-workers now weigh and register the food that is thrown away each day – a simple act that has shown immediate and lasting results. Why? Because once they were aware, our co-workers could make small changes to routines and daily preparation and see the results in real-time.

Thanks to this small change, by August 2021, we had saved almost 6 million kilos of food from being wasted, equivalent to close to 15 million meals. The next step is to figure out how to reduce the amount of food customers leave on their plates. An initial study indicates that plate waste can be radically reduced by raising customer awareness as well as by making small changes in our food preparation and serving routines, such as serving smaller portions.

A kitchen worktop with three clear IKEA 365+ food containers with leftovers. Two hands placing a lid on one container.

When leftovers are visible in the fridge, they are less likely to end up in the bin.

What about food waste at home?

Research into food storage suggests that leftovers are less likely to be wasted when they are visible. That is why the IKEA 365+ food storage system features sealed, see-through products that make storing leftovers more practical – food stays fresh for longer, and, hopefully, less of it gets thrown away. It’s also easy to combine the lids with jars and containers in different sizes and materials, making storing and re-heating the food even simpler.

We also want to encourage recycling waste rather than binning it. Products like our VARIERA system make it easy to separate different kinds of waste before composting or further processing. While nobody could claim that sorting directly reduces waste, it does enable customers to clearly see what they’re throwing away. And as the IKEA restaurant initiative shows, awareness can be the first step towards positive change.