Global Agri-Business Alliance Calls On Private Sector Members to Halve Their Food Waste

(3BL Media/Justmeans) A third of the food produced globally is never eaten. It’s a problem that costs the global economy an estimated $940 billion. Lost and wasted food also contributes to climate change, generating about 8 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and consuming around 25 percent of water used in agriculture. And lost or wasted food is a widespread problem, as it occurs throughout the entire supply chain, from agricultural production to household consumption.

The Global Agri-Business Alliance (GAA) is calling on private sector members to halve their food and agricultural losses by 2030 and work with their suppliers to do the same. Announced during the UN General Assembly’s Climate Week in New York in October, the resolution aligns with one of the 17 targets of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 12 seeks to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” The third target under the goal (target 12.3) calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains.

Peter White,  vice-president of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), described the GAA resolution as a “very significant.” The reason is that it is the “first ever global initiative addressing food loss supported by major agri-businesses, committing to halve their own losses by 2030.” The engagement of companies is “vital, since almost all food is produced by the private sector.”

The announcement of the resolution occurred during the launch of a report on SDG Target 12.3. Titled Food Loss and Waste: 2017 Progress Report, the report includes summaries of how countries, cities and the private sector are making progress toward the target. The report found that a number of companies in the food sector are measuring and publicly reporting their food loss and waste inventories. Those companies include Tesco and Kellogg Company.

Both companies are committed to reducing their food waste. Tesco, the British supermarket chain, has committed to preventing any food safe for human consumption from going to waste in its U.K. retail operations by the end of 2017. In order to make progress on that goal, the company measures its food waste and publicly reports on it.

For Kellogg Company, food waste represents the largest component of its overall waste stream. Reducing food waste within its facilities represents about $30 million in potential cost savings. According to Kellogg, that confirms the “clear financial benefit of measuring (and reducing) food loss and waste.”

Current food date labeling practice causes up to 90 percent of Americans to occasionally throw out food that is still fresh, according to ReFed, a multi-stakeholder nonprofit working to reduce food waste. Food manufacturers and retailers are scaling up their ambitions and efforts to reduce consumer food waste by standardizing food date labels, the report also found. Several examples are cited. The U.S. based Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association announced a voluntary standard to simplify date labels. The new standard uses only two phrases, but only one phrase per package. The Consumer Goods Forum issued a global call to action to promote consumer education of labeling and to standardize date labeling globally by the end of 2020.

As more food retailers and production companies get serious about reducing their food losses and waste, the world will grow closer to meeting the goal of halving food waste.

Photo: Tesco