A Catch-22: Wastefulness that makes zero sense

Beginning of June of this year, one of my friends in the trucking business had me give them a call.  For the purposes of this article, this friend is going to be code-named Wolverine. I will not be naming them as this could cost them their job, but what happened was incredibly offensive to them.  It was to me as well as they explained the situation.

Wolverine had made a delivery to a Walmart distribution center in Alabama. The delivery was several cases of Johnsonville sausages and bratwursts, under the Great Value label (Walmart’s brand). Several cases too many, and they were told what to do with them.

It was not take them to the food bank five minutes away.  No.

They were to (while taking pictures to prove they were doing as told) open the boxes, open the individual meat container and dump the product into the dumpster.

No, you read that right. Read it again, slowly this time.  Look at these pictures.

Wolverine was hornswoggled and made contact with someone in the Johnsonville company because it made zero sense to be doing this.  The contact stated that it was a Catch-22.  Yes they were the ones who packaged the sausages and if they were packaged under their name, then they could be driven on down to the food bank and made several people and families very happy but no. It was under the Great Value name and they never donate the food. They destroy it.

In this instance, we are talking close to 300 lbs of meat.  One of those packages could feed my household for roughly four days, and right now we’re only two humans and two dogs.  A family of four humans would be eating good for at least two days depending on which kid is having a growth spurt.

When one hits the search engines under the search terms “Great Value food donation policies”  there’s nothing. Changed to “Walmart Food Donation policies” and there are links to their site… which address buying from WalMart and donating, employees being encouraged to donate to other employees whose families are on hard times and how to get a tax free number for your organization.

Now we get a slightly sticky part of this equation: local, state and federal levels regulations that could affect why this policy is in place.

Starting with Alabama, I didn’t find anything. Nothing on the state government that even came close to the information I was looking for.  From the looks of it, at least in Alabama the food pantries as long as the FDA storage and prep rules, are the ones who decide what they can or can’t take.

Federal level?
Well, here I’ll add the links that popped as most relevant.

  1. https://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/frequently-asked-questionshttps://www.fns.usda.gov/tefap/frequently-asked-questions
  2. https://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/regulations
  3. PART 250—DONATION OF FOODS FOR USE IN THE UNITED STATES, ITS TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS AND AREAS UNDER ITS JURISDICTION

Okay that last link is getting us somewhere or is it? When you dig into that document, 250.11 is the only section that even touches on the donation part and that states

“(b) Receipt of shipments. The distributing or recipient agency, or other consignee, must comply with all applicable Federal requirements in receiving shipments of donated foods, including procedures for the disposition of any donated foods in a shipment that are out-of-condition (as this term is defined in §250.2), or are not in accordance with ordered amounts. The distributing or recipient agency, or other consignee, must provide notification of the receipt of donated food shipments to FNS, through electronic means, and must maintain an electronic record of receipt of all donated food shipments.”

I don’t see anything there that suggests that it was illegal or that there were a pile of papers that were needed in order for this food to not go to waste.
I have a lot of friends who snipe at WalMart for the usual gauntlet of reasons.  This is definitely something to snipe about. That was a lot of good protein wasted.  All because…someone was being lazy and didn’t want to deal with it when they were setting the policy. That’s literally the only reason I can think of that is the cause for this waste.

Does this happen to other foods packaged under the Great Value label?  I’m going to go out a limb here and state yes, it probably does.  Leaving people like my friend Wolverine, disgusted and righteously outraged.

Do over orders happen frequently?
At an individual distribution center it might be a weekly occurrence.  Nationwide, however, there are probably multiple grocery store distribution centers that are dealing with this problem right now.  With employees who want to keep their job but know what’s going on is wrong.

Is Great Value the only company doing this?
I think it’s safe to say that no, they are not the only ones doing this but one can hope they are in the minority.

The photos in this article are from Wolverine.

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10 thoughts on “A Catch-22: Wastefulness that makes zero sense

  1. I really don’t understand the company’s decision here…
    Don’t they have freezer space? Couldn’t they have held them for later distribution?
    If not, why not send them back?
    The whole donating idea aside (absolutely ridiculous to throw away food instead of donating it!), this is very poor business practices to be wasting a product that could be held for sale later (being frozen) or returned…
    The other thing I wonder (having worked in food service) is who’s double checking the shipping manifesto, to make sure what’s on the truck is what supposed to be there?
    Perhaps they need a counting lesson? lol
    (Not saying it’s Wolverine’s fault…our delivery guys at the restaurants I worked at only unloaded at their stops. They relied on the warehouse guys to load ’em up right)

  2. Hey, good article. I will not defend them except to say that they do stuff like this to avoid litigation. If they don’t give it away, they ain’t on the hook if somebody screams “food poisoning”. I blame the lawyers for this more so than the store.

  3. I pulled reefer for years. Every other company that has rejected food has either donated it to the food bank (whole foods), or left it to the driver to dispose of. (This is more common. I dropped a case of frozen sticky buns off at a grade school on my way to my next pick up, etc).

    Not once was I ever directed to actually destroy or trash any product. I share Wolv’s outrage, as this is not the norm at all.

  4. This sounds like a hack similar to the consignment sales to bookstores, whereby unsold books are stripped and disposed, rather than returned to a publisher, for refunds. Why dispose vs. allow donation? Dunno, maybe to avoid perverse incentives upon the originating shipper employees, to fluff up shipments so that the extras could be resold or subvert their own market demand. Same reason grocery stores prefer to dispose of unsold items rather than give them away. Weird but not too weird.

    1. I’ve worked for a book store in the past. I took home several hundred books because I couldn’t stand seeing them thrown away. Even then I had to get a supervisor’s sign off on them. It was disgusting.

      Especially given how many libraries would have loved to have had those books.

      Just as frustrating and just as annoying.

      1. Yet, if you look at it from the point of view of contracts & property, then it’s pretty clear that the owners have full right to dispose of the stuff for whatever reason they like. They must think this practice – though wasteful to a third-party observer – is of some benefit to them.

      2. Most people don’t realize that, in the case of returned books, the PUBLISHER (or author, if they’re indie-pubbed) has to pay for the return shipping and destruction of the books. Some choose to have them returned to the publisher for resale, but then the publisher has to have room to store them.

        There are small presses that have been bankrupted by the costs of returns.

        This instance you document, ‘Simmon, is a ridiculous waste. If it were out of date, I could see it. But a brand-new shipment? Oy.

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