Third of world's food wasted

28 September 2016

Efforts need to be redoubled in order to reach UN targets to halve food waste by 2030.

A group of governments and international organisations has urged nations, cities and businesses in the food supply chain to quickly set targets for reducing food waste and measures of progress.

The report from Champions 12.3, a coalition of leaders from government, business and civil society dedicated to achieving Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, said one third of all food produced goes to waste.

The global impact of food loss and waste worldwide is estimated to be worth $940bn in economic losses and to be the cause of 8% of greenhouse gases emissions annually.

In the EU alone around 88m tonnes of food are wasted annually – enough to feed 200m people – costing an estimated €143bn.

According to Champions 12.3, organisations across Europe have taken several major steps towards reducing food waste.

French supermarkets are now required to donate unsold yet still edible food to charity. Germany’s Ministry of Agriculture has supplied €10m of funding for smart packaging that uses electronic chip sensors to communicate food’s freshness to consumers.

The UK, which was singled out in the report as one of the worst offenders in food waste, launched a voluntary agreement called the Courtauld Commitment 2025, aimed at reducing food waste by a fifth.

Marcus Gover, chief executive of Wrap, which is part of the Champions 12.3 coalition said: “Wrap has been working on this for over a decade, forging partnerships and galvanising action through the Courtauld Commitment.

“As a result, since 2007, we have helped reduce food waste by over one million tonnes per year, across retail, hospitality and food service, and in the home.”

However, the report is urging more action from Europe. As well as calling on supply chain businesses to set food loss and waste reduction targets, it says governments and companies should quantify food waste and monitor progress in reducing it.

Lastly the group is arguing for the adoption of policies, incentives, investment and practices that reduce food loss and waste.

Dave Lewis, CEO, Tesco, another Champions 12.3 member, said: “It is vital that organisations begin measuring food waste, and set reduction targets. In 2013, Tesco became the first and only UK retailer to publish independently assured food waste data.

“It was a move that was instrumental in showing us where we needed to focus our efforts. Once we identified the problems areas we knew where to act. By measuring food waste, setting targets and building action plans, organisations are able to manage food waste as they would other business critical processes.”

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