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Soup leads way to staggering food waste savings for Baxters

Accurate monitoring, and a few tweaks to the system, enables food giant Baxter's to curb food waste without compromising quality

Monitoring reduces waste and improves quality

  • Computerised monitoring finds significant savings on production line
  • 50 tonnes of waste saved by optimising processes and equipment
  • Improved quality control prevents further 150 tonnes of waste

Baxter's Food Group is famed for its excellence in soups, jams, pickles and chutneys. From its humble beginnings as a small shop in Fochabers in Moray in 1868, the company has expanded into a global brand with sites in the UK, Canada and Australia. When food is produced at such a scale, it’s vital that waste is minimised as much as possible. That’s why the company called us in to assess opportunities for savings at its Scottish production plant.

One of our advisors visited the site at Fochabers to examine the manufacturing processes from beginning to end. Production of the famous Baxter’s soups accounts for most of the business here – two production lines put out several hundred cans per minute. Just like a good meal, soup was a natural place to start looking for savings.

Our first suggestion was to monitor the soup production lines to track waste and identify waste hotspots. This is useful advice for any large-scale manufacturer. Modern computerised monitoring can pick up tiny details that people miss using manual systems. Since small amounts of waste can add up to significant losses at scale, a small investment in monitoring can reap big rewards in the long run.

The waste monitoring system on the soup lines tracked production waste at critical points in the process. It examined everything from incoming ingredients, soup production, and can filling to packing, sterilisation and storage. Through analysing the data we could identify waste hotspots in the production process.

We then measured, recorded and cost out the waste at these hotspots. This allowed for a cost benefit analysis that could identify the best options for reducing or eliminating food waste. These included optimising equipment and processes to:

  • reduce ingredient loss (so that less raw material is wasted)
  • improve the filling process (to reduce spillage and reduce rejects)
  • exercise better weight control (to reduce rejects)

These measures had the potential to prevent an estimated 50 tonnes of waste per year across the entire site. Proving its success, the waste monitoring system will now be replicated across other key product lines such as beetroot and jams.

Further waste reductions were identified at the Quality Assurance Sampling stage. This is where soup cans are sampled at regular intervals to monitor product fill weights. This maintains product excellence but produces waste. We were able to suggest a rationalisation of this process, which would significantly reduce waste sent to landfill without compromising quality. This new sampling procedure has the potential to divert a further 150 tonnes of waste from landfill if rolled out across the site.

Preventing food waste reduces the use of fossil fuels and water, and saves carbon emissions. On top of that, it can save your business money. If you’re a food or drink producer, contact our advice and support service to see how you can make similar savings to Baxter’s – whatever your size.

Prevent food waste and improve profits

If you are a food and drink business, we are here to help prevent your food waste. Call 0808 808 2269 or email and ask about our free food waste audits.

Our support is funded by the Scottish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund through the £73 million Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Accelerator Programme.


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