Food for thought as supply chain woes dominate the headlines

Jon Guy looks at a new global crisis warning which has seemingly fallen on fallow ground  as the threat of supply chain issues remain firmly in focus.

While the headlines across Europe have been dominated by the shortage of HGV drivers and the concerns over the impact in the regional and with it the global supply chain a new report has gone almost un-noticed.

Western economies are always extremely touchy when it comes to the sight of partially empty shelves in shops and supermarkets. While panic buying has been a feature of the pandemic and currently at petrol forecourts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has warned the world needs to rapidly wise up on waste.

The FAO warned transforming agri-food systems to make them more efficient, inclusive and sustainable is key to prevent food loss and waste from continuing to undermine efforts to eradicate hunger, improve nutrition and reduce the strain on natural resources and the environment.

The facts are stark globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail. This equates to a loss of $400 billion per year in food value, while an estimated 17 percent of total global food production is wasted (11 percent in households, 5 percent in the food service and 2 percent in retail). As the world battles climate change and the threat of drought the ongoing waste of food also uses an estimated 75 billion cubic meters of water each year in the production of fruits and vegetables that simply never get to the people who require them.

“We need to accelerate progress in achieving SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) target 12.3 by 2030 to halve global food waste and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said, warning that we only have “nine (harvest) seasons remaining to do so.”

“Food loss and waste account for up to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They use up precious land and water resources for, essentially, nothing,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. “Putting a serious dent in food loss and waste will slow climate change, protect nature and increase food security – at a time when we desperately need these things to happen.”

Wednesday was the second International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste which was instituted by the UN in 2019.

In a call to action the FAO Director-General pointed to the need to address food loss and waste by incorporating successful innovation along the agri-food supply chain with up-scaled products, services, business models and technologies. Less food loss and waste would lead to more efficient land use and better water resource management with positive impacts on climate change and livelihoods.

Western economies are always extremely touchy when it comes to the sight of partially empty shelves in shops and supermarkets. While panic buying has been a feature of the pandemic and currently at petrol forecourts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has warned the world needs to rapidly wise up on waste.

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