Helping retail and supply chain businesses to identify and prevent the causes of food waste

There are numerous of tools available which facilitate effective decision making, leading to actions that will prevent and valorise waste. This piece of work identifies the need for a gap analysis of existing guidance and tools, with the aim of helping to inform the development of Decision Support Systems (DSSs) by REFRESH. Outcomes of the work are summarised in this report.

One way to provide decision support is to model food waste using a Decision Support Model (DSM) or Decision Support Tool (DST), making it possible to produce information on the likely effect of decisions on food waste. By making it easier for the target audiences to search for appropriate DSMs and DSTs and ensuring clear descriptions are provided the Decision Support Library (DSL) can help enable the provision of this advice.

This report provides the outcome of an assessment of the REFRESH DSL, DSTs and DSMs which included an assessment of the wider DSLs, DSTs and DSMs available from other providers.

It concludes that while the existing DSLs from other providers have a subset of the functionality, none of them provides the full range of support envisioned for the REFRESH DSL. The key gaps are the absence of a library for food waste DSMs; the lack of support for clear, structured, unambiguous model descriptions of models from a range of software environments; and the lack of support for finding compatible models or alternative models.

In relation to DSTs and DSMs it concludes that there are a considerable variety and scope of tools available for the target audiences to use. The benefit of the REFRESH DSTs and DSMs is that they share the same characteristics as the existing tools available, which confirms their appeal. However, this means that work may be needed to highlight and articulate the additional benefits and value of using the REFRESH outputs over other resources available.

There is an opportunity to develop DSMs and DSTs that are targeted for use by food businesses and the trade bodies that represent them rather than being targeted at academia and consultants. User feedback indicates they desire tools to cover a broad scope, and would prefer indicative tools which can be used to drive insights, rather than more detailed tools and models.

In terms of gaps in current provision of DSTs and DSMs, animal proteins (i.e. poultry, beef, lamb and fish) are a potential food type to extend into to increase market uptake. In addition, warehouse/chill house and logistics present gaps in the food supply chain that are currently not covered by DSTs or DSMs.

The REFRESH project investigates amongst other research Decision Support Systems (DSSs) that can help people, whether policy-makers, company CEOs or consumers, to make choices that help to reduce food waste. We want to develop systems that give people information, sometimes qualitative, sometimes quantitative, about the effects of their choices in terms of both food waste and the costs entailed. This helps them to make effective decisions.


Wigham, M., Tromp, S., Wilson, J., Bygrave, K., 2018: Gap analysis for decision support tools, models and libraries. REFRESH Deliverable 2.6


  • English

Publishing date: 



With thanks to: Anton Smeenk, Joost Snels and Nicole Koenderink Wageningen Food & Biobased Research)



Wigham, M., Tromp, S., Wilson, J., Bygrave, K., 2018: Gap analysis for decision support tools, models and libraries. REFRESH Deliverable 2.6



Work package: