End of last month the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),Graziano da Silvatold participants at the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) in Copenhagen that every year an estimated one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – around 1.3 billion tons. This costs around $750 billion per annum.

According to da Silva this would equal additional food to feed 2 billion people! This is unbelievable, isn´t it?

Reality, however, is that per capita food waste is around 100 kilograms in Europe and North America per year. At the same time FAO estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Almost all the hungry people, 852 million, live in developing countries, representing 15 percent of the population of developing counties. There are 16 million people undernourished in developed countries. In general children are the most visible victims of undernutrition. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year-five million deaths! Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria.

Conclusion: The world produces enough food to feed everyone. At least in theory!

World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day according to FAO. The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.

Possible Actions

1. Fighting Food Loss In A Holistic Manner

FAO noted that most food loss takes place in post-production, harvesting, transportation and storage. In developing countries, food waste is mainly related to inadequate infrastructure, while in more developed countries it is largely a problem in the marketing and consumption stages. Consequently investments in developing countries are needed in areas such as infrastructure, roads, and cold chains. Also improvement is needed in delivering more and better know-how to farmers on how to properly grow and market their products. In developed countries one priority should be to educate both companies and consumers to apply more responsible consumption patterns.

Fighting food loss and waste is clearly one area in which a strong partnership between governments and various organizations (companies, NGOs) is needed. Developing a global protocol can help provide clear measurements and indicators on which guidance on how to reduce food loss and waste can be based. FAO is working on such a protocal.

2. Stimulating Responsible Economic Growth

Besides climate change, political conflicts and certain political systems, poverty is the main cause of hunger. As a result economic growth plays a key role in reducing undernourishmnet. It is most effective in reducing poverty and hunger when it increases employment and income-earning opportunities that the poor can take advantage of. Sustainable agricultural growth is often effective in reaching the poor because most of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for a significant part of their livelihoods. However, growth will not necessarily result in better nutrition for all. Policies and programmes are required that will ensure “nutrition-sensitive” growth include supporting increased dietary diversity, improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services and educating consumers regarding adequate nutrition and child care practices.

Economic growth takes time to reach the poor, and may not reach the poorest of the poor. Therefore, social protection is crucial for eliminating hunger as rapidly as possible. Furthermore, when properly structured, social protection also promotes economic growth by building human capital and helping farmers manage risk so that they can adopt improved technologies. Finally, rapid progress in reducing hunger requires government action to provide key public goods and services within a governance system based on transparency, participation, accountability, rule of law and human rights.

3. Behaving And Acting Responsible Ourselves

Firstly, and most importanly, all of us can and should adjust their consumption behavior, i.e. thinking at least twice when shopping (what is really needed, who will consume it, by when should it be consumed, etc.) and before throwing anything away. We should act as role models and should try to positively influence our environment, our families, friends, colleagues, and others we´re inter-acting with. No need to blame others, if we´re not doing what we should be doing.

Have you ever heard of The Food Recovery Network in the US? It´s an organization which unites students at colleges and universities across America to fight food waste and hunger by recovering surplus perishable food from their college campuses and surrounding communities that would otherwise go to waste and donating it to people in need. Founded in September of 2011, it has since expanded to reach 23 college campuses and recovered over 160,000 pounds (72.75 metric tons) of food that would otherwise have been wasted.

Very similar, and much more known, is the Food banking system which exist in many countries in the world. Food banks acquire donated food, much of which would otherwise be wasted, from farms, manufacturers, distributors, retail stores, consumers, and other sources, and make it available to those in need through a network of community agencies. These agencies include school feeding programs, food pantries, soup kitchens, AIDS and TB hospices, substance abuse clinics, after-school programs, and other nonprofit programs that provide food to the hungry.

Have you ever supported your local food bank or any similar institution?

Finally, and from a company perspective, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility is not new. Still, there is significant room for many more organizations getting involved, donating money, providing know-how, and “ walking their talk“ in regards of being serious about helping our society and our planet. In other words: How many companies do you know which have teamed up with organizations such as the SAVE FOOD project, WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), Think-Eat-Save, or with any other programe targeted to change wasteful practices, to fight hunger, and to promote responsible consumption habits?

What do you think? Looking forward to receiving your feedback. Join the discussion!

*****

Andreas von der Heydt is the Country Manager of Amazon BuyVIP in Germany. Before that he hold senior management positions at L’Oréal. He´s a leadership expert, management coach and NLP master. He also founded Consumer Goods Club. Andreas worked and lived in Europe, the U.S. and Asia.

Source:http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131107110059-175081329-what-a-shame-one-third-of-food-is-wasted?trk=tod-posts-recentPosts-psum

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