Global food waste to rise by a third in just 12 years

Annual food waste is predicted to increase by a third to 2.1 billion tonnes by 2030 without aggressive and coordinated global action to redress the current trajectory.

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That is according to new modelling by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which forecasts that $1.5trn (£1.2trn) worth of food will be lost or wasted each year by that time.

A lack of awareness among the general public is thought to be one of the key drivers, along with poor collaboration across the food value chain, and inadequate supply chain infrastructure and efficiency.

“Roughly one-third of the food produced around the world goes to waste,” BCG partner, Esben Hegnsholt, said. “This represents a challenge so massive that it was included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“But while it is a daunting problem, there are steps that can be taken today to dramatically slash food loss and waste across the value chain.”

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Resources Institute, food waste accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while 870 million people remain undernourished worldwide.

The latest research identifies 13 initiatives companies can take, including: 

  • Educating farmers, consumers, and employees on the issue of food loss and waste, and steps they can take to reduce it
  • Improving supply chain infrastructure for the food industry, including investment in cold chain systems
  • Adopting digital, big data, and other tools to slash waste, and developing key performance indicators and processes to drive reductions
  • Improving collaboration across the food value chain, including between agricultural producers and food processors
  • Advocating for changes to regulations and tax policies that would reduce loss and waste, and encourage the repurposing and recycling of food.

By taking these steps, the researchers argue businesses could benefit from lower costs, new markets and opportunities, an elevated brand, and a better ability to attract and retain talent.

“While many stakeholders have a part to play in combating food loss and waste, the role of companies is perhaps the most critical,” said BCG partner, Shalini Unnikrishnan.

“Companies are involved in every aspect of the food supply chain, from production through to consumption, and as a result, their decisions and actions have an outsized impact. 

“At the same time, they have deep expertise, insight on potential solutions, and the money to make those solutions happen – which can ultimately help their bottom lines.” 

Image credit: iStock

Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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