Addressing a Global Problem

Food waste is an enormous environmental, social and economic problem. A third of food produced is never eaten, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost each year. That represents an economic cost to the global economy of USD $940 billion. Food waste is also responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere annually, so if food waste were a country, its carbon footprint would be third only to China and the US. The water footprint of food waste alone is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva. This is all without mention of how one in nine people worldwide goes hungry every day.

Given the magnitude of the problem of food waste, CGF members are committed to reducing food loss in their own supply chains in efforts to reduce these statistics and their impact on the planet and human life. Food waste has been a topic of concern at the CGF for years. Now, in alignment with the CGF’s larger global strategy, the CGF has launched a Coalition of Action on Food Waste to accelerate its impact through streamlined and targeted collaborative action. The Charter was approved by the CGF Board of Directors in March 2020.

Learn more about the Food Waste Coalition.

Download the one-pager.

Introducing the CGF's Food Waste Coalition of Action

Learn more about the CGF’s new Coalition of Action on Food Waste in this episode of the CGF Sustainability Podcast.


Building on Experience

The new Coalition of Action on Food Waste builds on years of progress on the issue at the CGF. The establishment of the formal Coalition of Action in 2020, with its explicit CEO commitment, creates an opportunity for us to significantly accelerate this progress in reaching food waste reduction objectives.

In mid-2015, the CGF Board approved a resolution to halve food waste within the operations of its members by 2025 and to support wider UN Sustainable Development Goals on the issue. This was a huge milestone in the consumer goods industry’s commitment to environmental stewardship and leadership.

This Food Waste Resolution was the third resolution of the CGF’s Environmental Sustainability work and its aim was to set a clear benchmark for food waste action and set measurable goals to reduce food waste in the future.

In June 2016, the first-ever global standard to measure food loss and waste, the Food Loss and Waste Protocol, was introduced through an international partnership. The standard is a set of global definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others to consistently and credibly measure, report on and manage food loss and waste. It comes as a growing number of governments, companies and other entities are making commitments to reduce food loss and waste.

Inspiring Industry Action

The CGF has published a case study booklet highlighting the commitments and actions of CGF members to address the issue of food loss in their supply chains.


A Task for Champions

In 2017, the CGF started working with Champions 12.3, a private-public partnership from the World Resources Institute that encourages collaborative action to meet UN SDG 12.3.

Working with Champions 12.3, the CGF published a report that highlighted the clear return on investment from food loss and waste retention. The report found that for every $1 companies invested to reduce food loss and waste, they saved $14 in operating costs – concrete evidence in the case for better business.

We have also worked with Champions 12.3 on a Call to Action to simplify and standardise food date labels globally. The CGF Board of Directors unanimously adopted the Call to Action, which notes retailers and food producers should take three important steps to simplify date labels and reduce food waste:

  • Use only one label at a time
  • Choice of two labels: one expiration date for perishable items (e.g. “Use by”) and one food quality indicator for non-perishable items (e.g., “Best if used by”). The exact wording will be tailored to regional context
  • Consumer education to better understand what date labels mean

In addition to the labels on products, the Call to Action recommends companies partner with non-profit organisations and government agencies to educate consumers about how to interpret date labels. Education efforts could include in-store displays, web materials and public service announcements. Many consumers don’t know, for example, that many products are still safe to eat past the “Best if used by” date.