Baldor Specialty Foods, the Northeast’s leading distributor of fresh produce and specialty foods, announced that it has successfully diverted 100 percent of its organic food waste—achieving the company’s goal set in December 2015 to eliminate food waste by 2017. “We pride ourselves on being innovators and trailblazers in all facets of specialty food distribution,” says Baldor’s CEO, TJ Murphy.
Baldor Specialty Foods processes more than one million pounds of produce each week, previously discarding a lot of usable food scraps. Baldor’s food waste initiative, known as SparCs (the word “scraps” spelled backward), was developed by Sustainability Director Thomas McQuillan. The program utilizes a functional approach to food waste by prioritizing human consumption, creating partnerships with:
- Haven’s Kitchen, a Manhattan-based café, cooking school, and event space dedicated to forming communities through food. They recently developed a food line designed of Baldor’s SparCs such as soups, sauces, and cookies.
- MISFIT Juicery, a Washington, D.C., company that takes excess produce and cold press it into a delicious line of juices. Baldor now sends edible food scraps to MISFIT.
- Brick Farm Market, located in Hopewell, New Jersey, is a local sustainable operation that takes other produce items from Baldor, such as cantaloupe rinds and mango pits, and repurposes them into animal feed or compost.
Any remaining organic material, if not used for human or animal consumption, is processed in an on-site waste-to-water system. “We had to stop referring to these food products as waste,” says McQuillan. “It’s food. Usable, nutritious and delicious food. We just needed to find ways to consume it.”
In a blog post, the company reflects on the challenges faced when implementing such a large-scale program: a lack of infrastructure for landfill alternatives, the company’s own reliance on a trash pile system, and stakeholder’s varying opinions on a zero-waste policy. Moving forward, the success of the SparCs program can be utilized as a model for other corporations overcoming challenges with eliminating food waste.
In 2017, Baldor will continue developing new ways to keep organic matter out of its waste stream. The company already working on plans to create a dried vegetable blend or “flour” that provides a nutrient-dense boost to soups, smoothies, baked goods, and more.
Baldor Specialty Foods was founded in 1991 and started as the wholesale division of Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market, an iconic Manhattan grocer. Visit Baldor’s website to learn more about their company history and inspiring journey to zero waste. Click here to see The SparCs initiative featured on The TODAY Show.