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18 January 2019
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Musings on excess over the festive season

08 December 2014  

“Everyone has lots of leftovers at Christmas,” said the voice from the TV as I was washing up after dinner this evening, blogs John Bowen.

It isn’t true for everyone, of course, because there are many around the world who will go hungry this and every evening and many more who will have barely sufficient. But certainly here in the UK there will be excess; just a look at what is going through the check-outs at any supermarket should convince you of that and it will get worse (or better, if you are a supplier) over the next three weeks.

The overbuying of anything at any time is an anathema to me because I am a supply chain anorak first and last, but in business it does happen. Estimating demand is an art and while computer modelling of supply chains has become very sophisticated in many sectors there are still errors to be made, but these are normally genuine mistakes rather than deliberate overbuying.

It is astonishing that not only is there a food shopping frenzy on the run-up to Christmas, but that, with the stores only shut for a day, we are back at it the day after. And how much of what is bought gets thrown away?

Maybe you feel that the supermarket chains need your cash – that you are being charitable in your efforts to bolster their flagging profits and helping to keep people employed. A noble enough cause, perhaps, but plunging fuel costs are helping their margins.

I don’t normally make a big thing of charity; I do what I do and leave it at that, but hearing those words on TV made me think a little and so I will make this proposal: why not think about what you are planning to spend on food this holiday season, donate 10 per cent of that figure to a food-related charity of your choice and only buy 90 per cent of what you planned to stock up on?

Not an original idea by any means, but many of my readers here are in the facilities management profession in which sustainability and waste reduction are a way of life.

Just a thought – and thanks to Si King of The Hairy Bikers for having uttered the words that prompted my thinking about it.

John Bowen is an FM consultant