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Minimize Losses by Donating Expired Foods

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Operations

For Doug Rauch, former president of the Trader Joe’s grocery chain and an upcoming speaker at The NATSO Show, food waste is a top concern. Not only is underutilizing food wasting our country’s resources, business owners that aren’t donating food that is past its use-by date or produce that isn’t at its best are losing money.

“Under Section 179 of the IRS tax code, you get an enhanced tax deduction for donating food that is wholesome and healthy or produce that is dinged to a non profit,” Rauch said, adding that business owners can recover 50 percent of their margin. “That becomes an unrealized asset that is 50 percent of your lost margin that would be on your bottom line that you’re just wasting.” 

Rauch said this is one of the IRS tax codes that is designed to incentivize behavior that is good for society. “It is win/win. The operators gets more money in their pockets and society gets a win,” he said.

About 40 percent of food that is produced in the country is never consumed, Rauch said. “That is important to us because we have limited resources. The issue of trying to better utilize food is an economic and a moral issue.” 

A lot of consumers don’t understand that a best by or sell by date is a display code and that product typically lasts much longer than is noted on products. That means retailers often pull products ahead of their best by date. “There is a tax incentive to give this food you would have otherwise wasted, that is still wholesome and healthy into the hands of someone that can use this.”

The Food Waste Alliance has a toolkit to help business owners find ways to minimize waste, divert food to those in need. 

While Rauch is passionate about food waste, his true expertise lies in building a strong corporate culture and building a brand. During the 31 years he was employed by Trader Joe’s, with the last 14 being as president, the company went from a little known regional chain to one of the hottest retailers in America with 340 stores in 30 states. Rauch will share his expertise as a keynote speaker during The NATSO Show next week.

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About the Author

Mindy Long

Mindy Long

Mindy Long has been writing professionally for over 15 years and freelancing full time for the last four. In 2010 Long formed Mindy Long Freelance LLC. As a journalist, she has written about everything from video games to diesel fuel additives. 

Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City. In addition, she has completed writing courses at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md., and through the OpEd Project, Writer’s Digest and She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Northwestern Alumni Admissions Council.

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