VIDEO: MARKO KOZJAK – We specialize in saving food

8. December 2022. Marko Kozjak
Food waste has become a habit for many people – buying more food than we need, letting fruits and vegetables spoil or taking larger portions than we can eat. It is these habits that put an additional burden on our natural resources, damage the environment and, finally, burden our budget.

In Croatia, 71 kilograms of food is thrown away per person per year, and wasted food causes more greenhouse gas emissions every year than travelling by plane. Entrepreneur Marko Kozjak spoke about food waste, waste reduction, and digital traceability of food in TOP CAST ​​TOP RADIJA.

One of the solutions is offered by the ‘Zero Food Waste Revolution’ portal, which launched a 14-day challenge that invites citizens to join the fight against food waste. The ‘Zero Food Waste Revolution’ offers practical tips and tools to save money, plan meals, organize fridges and pantries and ultimately reduce waste and learn how to get the most out of food.

“(…) If you go shopping as a household, it is important that you choose the products that you will consume and that you will use up. We don’t buy 10 kilos of potatoes if we need 1.5-2 kilos for that week. “The goal is to show that we can be sustainable and how we smartly buy and use the food we already have,” said Marko and added: “Croats buy impulsively. They buy sale products in megalomaniacal quantities that we plan to use. Meanwhile, a new sale has arrived, we buy new products, and we throw away the old ones. (…)”

On how to change habits, Kozjak explained: “Habits change from kindergarten age so that when people become financially independent, they know how to manage their financial resources, but also their diet.”

Marko and his business partner Nikola Vida opened the company VeeMee in 2017 with three main goals: “food waste”, and CO2 emissions, but primarily food traceability. Marko also explained what digital traceability means:

“Today, when you come to any shopping centre, you find the product’s QR code, click on it and get its PID – the manufacturer’s identity. You immediately know which manufacturer is in the background and, if something is wrong with the product, you can immediately contact that manufacturer directly and you can see everything about him, what he does, what he produces. At the moment, 25,000 tons of food from Spain, Croatia and Greece circulate in digital traceability on an annual basis.

70 percent of food returns are due to logistical problems – of which 15 per cent are due to incorrect declaration, Marko said. 16 million tons of food is returned without the customer even knowing it. That’s why digital traceability of food that is available to everyone is needed.

“The chance that you consumed food that we processed is greater than 80 per cent. Annually, we process more than a thousand tons of fresh food assortment, so in all shopping centres, someone is always stuck with some food that just needed to be repurposed. The first class of food goes to shopping centres, the second to food outlets, and the third mainly to donations,” said Marko.

Looking at the last four years, more than 4,500 tons of food have been saved so far. According to Marko, this is the equivalent of eight Cibona pallet towers on the Croatian market, and he added: “Although we work with 12 European countries and 36 suppliers in Croatia, that is only a fraction. The goal is to expand, that’s an indication of how much more space there is. (…)”

Regarding tips on how to reduce food waste, Marko pointed out: “You need to look at your eating habits. Based on that, create a menu for yourself that doesn’t have to be perfect, but makes you feel comfortable. The more you consume, the more you spend. Based on benchmarks that take a week and five minutes a day to write down, go to the store and shop responsibly and smartly.(…) Maybe people don’t perceive, but stores certainly won’t stop buying until they see a drop in spending.

This will lead to the fact that individual-piece products such as mini-tomatoes will always be more expensive than bulk products, but this will prevent mega-production and reduce the need for CO2 emissions. Agriculture has a share of 26 per cent in total CO2 emissions. (…)”

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