I have written on Food Waste now and then as it's clearly a part of the food supply system where the world can grow food availability using existing technology.
Now a UNEP/FAO lead campaign, supported by initiatives such as WRAP, has been launched.
click image to visit the site
Think-Eat-Save and the slogan “Reduce Your Foodprint” seem to indicate that it is focussed on the consumer, but the information on the site is not limited to the household. The initiative seems to be focussing on the complete food chain.
There is already a wealth of information here, presented in a very readable way, and there are indications of actions to promote awareness and action.
Think-Eat-Save rests on four pillars
Awareness raising on the impact of, and solutions for food loss and waste.
Collaboration and coordination of world-wide initiatives on food loss and waste reduction.
Policy, strategy and programme development for food loss and waste reduction.
Support to investment programmes and projects..
When the Institute of Mechanical Engineers publishes a report on solving the expected world food shortage by reducing loss, you begin to realise this is a very widely recognized problem or opportunity. I already published a paper on this titled Waste in the food value chain: Issues and opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011, which also highlighted the wasted inputs required to produce the wasted food.
(click image for full report online)
Most of the solutions are not to do with mechanization, automation or new devices. Cereals lost to poor storage in the third world environment need better management of existing systems and simple waterproofed structures. Losses in the first world retail system are more strongly linked to the need to change consumer behaviour, diet, obesity, visual standards, kitchen control, expiry dates etc than to research new technologies.
The report has some interesting data that bears repeating
Half the food that is grown in the world is lost and not eaten
3 calories of energy are required to produce 1 calorie of food energy in the form of cereals
30 calories of energy are required to produce 1 calorie of food energy in the form of bee
50% of the energy input to wheat is required for fertilizer and pesticides
70% of water use is by agriculture
Some thoughts after reading this: the food we do eat uses twice as much inputs than it would seem, the waste is mainly not on the field where it would could at least compost and fertilize but is increasingly in urban areas where it unnecessarily loads the waste disposal system.
This document from a Queensland (Australia) initiative to improve eco-efficiency covers a number of emerging issues in Food Manufacturing.
click image to visit site
Some of the topical issues discussed are Food miles, Virtual water, Life cycle assessment, Supply chain management and Food eco-labelling.
The site also contains case studies and manuals that provide implementable information for food processors.
I have often posted on the waste issue – highlighting the problem, looking at solutions and reporting on achievements. Now, in the UK, we have a real agreement in place and initial results that look promising.
from: WRAP (click image for full story online)
Retailers and manufacturers are committed to working together to cut the UK’s household food waste by 155,000t or 2.5 per cent of the total waste by the end of 2010 – equivalent to $520 million and 700 000 tons of Carbon Dioxide a year.
The agreement is part of WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign and has already achieved The campaign which was launched in November 2007 had already delivered a reduction of 110,000 tons in the annual amount of household food waste by March 2008.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery products, dairy, meat and fish products are the biggest sources of household food waste, according to WRAP. The latest initiative will focus on eliminating waste by developing more effective labeling; pack size range, storage advice and packaging to keep food fresher for longer.
This is interesting when compared to the situation in Africa where hunger and famine are widespread. There is of course no way of saying how many people this mass of food could feed but its interesting that that in the recent Myanmar Emergency Operation by the World Food Programme people received 450 g/day of food or 0.16 ton a year so a million people would have consumed 160 000 ton a year!