Article originally published in The Grocer, 23rd November 2023
Considering approximately nine million people die from hunger and hunger-related diseases every year, the staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food that doesn’t get eaten every year could potentially feed the world’s hungry several times over. This accounts for roughly a third of all the food produced globally, this level of waste is unsustainable – environmentally, economically, and morally. The stark reality of these figures calls for a united front in combatting the issue of food waste, a critical lever in addressing the intertwined challenges of hunger, environmental degradation and climate change.
The Consumer Goods Forum’s Food Waste Coalition recently shed light on the figures of food waste within its own ranks. With 16 of our retailer and manufacturer members reporting 2.12 million tonnes of waste in 2021, the numbers paint a sobering picture. Yet, the disclosure of these figures marks an important commitment to transparency and accountability – a prerequisite for meaningful change. Indeed, a lot still has to be done, and the road ahead is steep. But by setting a baseline, the Coalition has laid the groundwork for measurable improvement, and our ambition is to bring all 21 members into this in the next report. It is an acknowledgement that the time for aspirational goals have passed and that concrete, measured and shared steps toward halving food waste by 2030, in line with SDG 12.3, is now imperative.
The Coalition’s report is more than a statistic, though; it is a call to arms. It challenges all the players in the industry to not only look inward, but to collaborate and innovate.Our approach should not be prescriptive, but rather a collective journey of diverse entities at different stages of addressing food waste. The path is not through exclusion, but through an inclusive model that uplifts the entire industry. To catalyse change, we must promote a culture of knowledge-sharing, offering guidance and collaborative solutions.
We must recognise that reporting on food waste is not an end, but a means – prompting quick, decisive action. Through collective effort and public accountability, we can turn the tide on food waste. The Coalition’s report does not just highlight a problem; it serves as a beacon to others in the sector to do the same. It is an integral part of the movement we are championing – one that requires each link in the supply chain to engage, innovate, and act. Only then can we hope to make a substantial dent in the global challenge of food waste.