Simple actions by consumers and food retailers can dramatically cut the 1.3 billion t of food lost or wasted each year and help shape a sustainable future, according to a new global campaign to cut food waste launched today by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and partners.
The Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign is in support of the Save Food Initiative to reduce food loss and waste along the entire chain of food production and consumption – run by the FAO and trade fair organizer Messe Düsseldorf – and the UN Secretary General's Zero Hunger Initiatives. The new campaign specifically targets food wasted by consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.
Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced, worth around $1 trillion, gets lost or wasted in food production and consumption systems, according to data released by FAO. Food loss occurs mostly at the production stages - harvesting, processing and distribution - while food waste typically takes place at the retailer and consumer end of the food-supply chain.
According to FAO, roughly 95% of food loss and waste in developing countries are unintentional losses at early stages of the food supply chain due to financial, managerial and technical limitations in harvesting techniques; storage and cooling facilities in difficult climatic conditions; infrastructure; packaging and marketing systems.
However, in the developed world, the end of the chain is far more significant. At the food manufacturing and retail levels, large quantities of food are wasted due to inefficient practices, quality standards that over-emphasize appearance, confusion over date labels, and consumers being quick to throw away edible food due to over-buying, inappropriate storage and preparing meals that are too large.
Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, stressed that less food waste would lead to more-efficient land use, better water resource management, more sustainable use of phosphorus, and it would have positive repercussions on climate change.