This week is Food Waste Action Week, and the spotlight is on how we can collectively cut emissions by reducing food waste. The aim of the week is to create lasting change globally that helps to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving global food waste by 2030.
According to WWF’s Driven to Waste report, 40% of all food that’s produced for humans is never eaten. This means that food waste is currently responsible for more greenhouse gases than all commercial flights taken in one year.
A lot of the discussion this week has been around how best to increase awareness and encourage consumers to stop throwing away food in their homes. While this is of course important, we cannot overlook the urgent need to prioritise reducing waste at the source.
The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is working with members of our Food Waste Coalition of Action to engage suppliers, growers and distributors and external stakeholders on upstream losses and gather learnings on how to transform and develop more efficient systems.
Over 50% of food that goes uneaten is lost on farms: 1.2 billion tonnes per year. Upstream losses are some of the most complex and difficult to solve. To ensure a significant reduction in food waste Co2 emissions, we need to tackle the 1.2 billion tonnes lost per year via upstream losses – equivalent to $370 billion of food wasted.
When speaking to our suppliers and stakeholder, some of the issues uncovered included:
- There is a lack of support to suppliers for redirecting rejected food
- Support is needed to sample and estimate surplus, particularly with data management tools and dedicated data collection staff
- Improper storage and drying practices
- Lack of awareness and effective training in smallholder farms
- Rejection of perfectly safe foods due to stringent cosmetic and quality controls
We are using industry collaboration to solve this issue.
We have set up an Upstream Supplier Hub, to provide a network for suppliers to unite, share issues and raise ideas of best practice initiatives to help drastically reduce farm stage food waste. The Hub engages with growers and farmers, suppliers, pack houses and processors which are nominated by Coalition members, to learn from the network’s resources and activities.
Together, our Coalition of Action on Food Waste aims to:
- Promote on-farm loss reduction, measurement and reporting through training
- Share best practices and case studies among the supplier network
- Publicly recognise suppliers’ efforts
- Organise working groups to support industry engagement.
We are eight years out from the Sustainable Development Goals deadline, the time for urgent action is now. All of those in the food industry have a role to play in halting food waste and huge gains can be made on the fight against climate change if we stop waste in production.
For more details about our work to reduce food loss along production and supply chains, including at the post-harvest stage, by 2030, visit www.tcgffoodwaste.com.