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On May 20th – 21st, The Consumer Goods Forum’s Environmental Sustainability team held a Food Waste and Date Labeling Workshop in Chicago, the first of its kind in North America.
Discussions during the workshop centered around measurement strategies, as well as challenges encountered by both retailers and manufacturers in the context of the North American markets. Speakers stressed the importance of not letting the “perfect be the enemy of the good” and getting started on the measurement journey even if it means recalculating one’s baseline as data collection improves. Also reinforced was the importance of having conversations across multiple departments – from finance to operations to procurement – to build the business case for measurement and action. During the workshop, the group began to explore ways for companies to address the barriers to measurement and how to overcome them.
The importance of date labeling standardization was also discussed by the group. In 2016, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) announced a voluntary standard, paring down the numerous labels to two choices: “best if used by,” referring to product quality, or “use by,” referring to safety. During the same year at New York Climate Week, the CGF and Champions 12.3, launched a call to action to retailers and manufacturers to simplify date labels and help educate consumers about understanding them by 2020.
In mid-2015, the CGF Board approved a resolution to halve food waste within the individual operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturers members by 2025 and to support wider UN Goals on the issue. Central to the Food Waste Resolution was the aim to set a clear benchmark for food waste arising today and set measurable goals to reduce food waste in the future.
One year later, in June 2016, the first-ever global standard to measure food loss and waste, the Food Loss and Waste (FLW) Accounting and Reporting Standard, was introduced. The FLW Standard was developed by the Food Loss and Waste Protocol, a multi-stakeholder partnership convened by World Resources Institute. The CGF serves on the Steering Committee of the FLW Protocol.
The North America Food Waste working group will meet again on November 14th and 15th in Washington D.C. More details to follow in the coming months. For more information, please contact Rosario Santos.