'Yieldwise' launched to cut waste in food supply chain

19 February 2016

The global food system is going through a ‘quiet crisis’, according to the Rockefeller Foundation.

Rejecting a potato at the supermarket because it’s oddly shaped may not seem important, but all the food wasted each year through imperfections or spoilage before it reaches consumer plates could feed the planet for two months. Annually it costs the global economy $990bn – more than the combined profits of the Fortune 500 companies last year.

Yieldwise is a campaign initiated by the Rockefeller Foundation with the goal of halving the world’s food loss by 2030. Their initial focus is on Africa, where 50% of fruits and vegetables, 40% of roots and 20% of cereals – all staple foods – are lost post-harvest.

Rachel Korberg, a senior programme associate at the Foundation, said: “It is critical to develop more partnerships among stakeholders in the food production pipeline to invest in practices that minimise food loss. For example, fruits grown in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania were rotting because growers could not get the fruits to markets.”

Yieldwise will also help farmers access the right technology to curb more preventable crop losses, including better storage solutions such as metal silos and hermetic cocoons. In countries such as Nigeria and Tanzania they also plan to help manufacturers promote the use of mobile processing, solar-drying and cold storage units, which will radically increase the shelf life of crops and could boost the income of African farmers by 15%.

Sara Farley, CEO of The Global Knowledge Initiative, said: “Significant reductions in food loss can be made by improving farmers’ use of good agricultural practices, such as proper handling of horticulture crops.”

But it’s not just suppliers who need re-educating. Global businesses will be asked to account for food loss and waste in their supply chains, with the hope they will change their own processes. Meanwhile Asda are trialling ‘wonky veg’ boxes to encourage consumers to change habits too.

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