Why reducing food waste matters
According to WRAP “around a third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted and it’s having a real impact on climate change, contributing 8–10% of total man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” It is therefore unsurprising that one of the UN Sustainable Development goals is to half global food waste by 2030.
Cutting global food waste by half would add a 1/5th to the world’s total food supply. This is highly significant when facing the challenge of how to feed a growing global population, in a sustainable manner.
One of the key themes presented by Mason and Lang in their book, ‘Sustainable Diets’ is that of food waste. We explored this in a blog last year that looked at, among other things, the aim of ‘losing less’. You can read that in detail, here.
Food Waste Action Week 2022 is an opportunity to both raise awareness and to create change. From 7 March – 13 March, there is a global initiative to promote the environmental consequences of wasting food, and to inspire activities that help to reduce the amount of food we all waste. As food procurement experts, managing the whole food supply chain, this is something allmanhall are acutely aware of and something we know we all have the power to affect. This can be from supply chain activity down to catering operations or even how we reduce food waste in our own households.
Want a greater understanding of the topic of food waste? Here’s some food for thought…
Labelling, storing and pack-sizes…
Here are some ways food suppliers can help reduce consumer wastage. Suggestions from WRAP also support these ideas, too.
- Choosing correct date labelling, using ‘best before’ when possible
- Removing ‘sell by and ‘display until’ dates
- Extending shelf life (providing food quality and safety are not compromised)
- Providing clear storage guidance
- Clear advice on foods which can be frozen at home
- Providing portioning information on packaging
- Smaller pack sizes where products are wasted in high volume, e.g. bread loaves. If not appropriate, then providing guidance on optimising storage and freezing.
As well as reducing food waste, these suggestions can help manage food budgets and achieve food cost savings. With food inflation what it is at the moment, this is yet another motivation to change behaviour and help to reduce waste.
The counter-intuitive role of packaging
Packaging is a critical aspect of food production. It keeps food safe and helps prevent wastage. Packaging also facilitates efficient communication throughout the supply chain by enabling the communication of information. Trade-offs occur between having enough packaging to prevent damage and wastage, but not so much that high emissions are generated from the production and transport of the packaging.
It seems counter-intuitive to think that packaging may actually support sustainable food systems. You can read more about packaging complexities, here.
Yet again we see the complex factors surrounding sustainable food systems – the considerations around packaging and its potential to reduce waste serve to highlight these intricacies and interdependencies.
In Europe, up to 20% of all produced food is wasted. Reducing waste provides a major opportunity to make food more sustainable and economically efficient. Whilst wastage in low-income countries tend to be post-harvest waste, in developed countries, consumer and foodservice waste is highest.
Eliminating household and catering food waste in Europe and the Americas would add a whopping 10% to the world’s food supply. Let’s be part of making this big difference. Losing less is the way to inspire improvement from both a sustainability and an economic perspective.