Food waste: Be part of the solution and not the problem

Source: The post is based on the article “Food waste: Be part of the solution and not the problem” published in the Livemint on 23rd September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2: Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Relevance: Food wastage and necessary steps.

News: Almost 2.5 billion tonnes of food produced annually goes unconsumed. On the other hand, about 870 million people globally are undernourished. Growing more food isn’t necessary to end world hunger; reducing just 50% of food loss or waste could end it.

What are the various reasons for increasing food wastage?

1) According to a study, only 35% of consumers say they fully understand the difference between terms such as “best before”, “consume by” and “expiry date” seen on date labels.

2) Organizations are not paying enough attention to influence the entire food chain to reduce waste. Demand-driven production isn’t trickling down the entire food chain. This is because procurement agents and supply chains have very different performance goals.

Overall the cost associated with food waste is around 5.6% of total sales for organizations. Apart from the financial implications, food waste is a significant emitter of greenhouse gases, generating 8-10% of global emissions.

Along with raging food-price inflation and persistently high energy prices, food loss and waste constitute one of the most urgent and intimidating challenges in society.

Read more: UNEP releases “Food Waste Index Report 2021”
What should be done to reduce food waste?

Engage consumers and employees in managing food waste: The world organisations need to bolster awareness-related initiatives. For instance, Unilever’s Use-Up Day campaign aims to cut food waste by one-third by encouraging consumers to use ingredients they already have at least once a week.

Ensuring comprehensible labelling: There is an urgent need for comprehensive labelling. Companies should also use information technology to promote waste avoidance among consumers.

Collaborate across the entire industry value chain: This can be done by 1) Building visible, agile and intelligent supply chains to enable transparency and strengthen the collaboration and data exchange with value-chain partners, 2) Using Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions in cold chains can help organizations harness data-driven insights, enhance traceability and monitor the quality of perishables, 3) Boosting local supply chains, 4) Regionalizing and localizing the supplier base.

Monitor and report food waste-related benchmarks: Organizations need to set food waste reduction goals, establish relevant metrics, track and report progress against them. This will also help in reporting waste volumes and attaching a dollar value to it.

For instance, Sodexo has implemented a data-driven food-waste prevention programme that has already cut the organization’s food wastage by around half.

Prevent of food waste occurrence: Organizations at every stage of the food value chain need to manage waste better. Further, technology can also help in tracking and assessing food waste and enabling action at the right time, while enlisting consumers for the task of waste reduction.

Read more: The overlooked case for food losses and waste

Food waste is everyone’s problem. Everyone is part of the food-waste problem and everyone could be part of the solution.

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