As we prepare for the innumerable resource challenges of supporting a population expected to top 9 billion in the next 35 years, it is simply unacceptable to continue wasting food. Organizations large and small are now focusing a variety of efforts on eliminating food waste. Strategies include everything from food-saving innovations such as FreshPaper, campaigns to promote “ugly produce,” legislation, industry-wide commitments to reduce food waste, and apps that connect organizations with excess food to those in need.
Because of its scale, the food service industry can play a major role in helping reduce food waste. Now a coalition of companies throughout the value chain — Ardo, McCain, PepsiCo, SCA, Sodexo, Unilever Food Solutions and WWF — have joined forces and expertise to fight against food waste in the food services sector starting in Europe. The ultimate objective of the founding members of the International Food Waste Coalition (IFWC) — created in April but officially launched this month — is to inspire other companies and organizations to adopt comprehensive food-waste reduction programs.
“We have a big ambition for the coalition. We truly believe that the collective organization that we are creating will provide efficient solutions to the food waste challenge,” said IFWC president Damien Verdier, who is also Group Chief Strategy, Research & Innovation Officer at Sodexo and a member of the Executive Committee. “A challenge which must not be underestimated, both in terms of the impact on the climate and its natural resources, and the big question of ‘how will we feed the world in 2050?’”
Studies show that food waste occurs at every phase of the industry value chain (harvest, storage, transportation, preparation, service, consumption, etc). The IWFC’s collaborative approach engages with each actor calling on them to take their responsibility in the fight against food waste and to adopt a global strategy; collectively, the IFWC members have the largest geographical food services footprint in the world and have the potential to act at each step of the value chain.
Where the IFWC aims to make a difference is to represent a total-value chain approach with focus on concrete actions to maximize the collective impact. The objective is to bring together the best of the existing approaches, add new elements, and join them together across the length of the value chain.
The coalition is currently piloting a project in schools in several countries of the European Union, working to identify where food waste is happening in the different steps of the chain, find efficient solutions, and at the end of the chain, to create awareness among students and teachers.
“Food waste is a serious issue and all of the actors of the value chain, from the growers to the final consumers, need to reflect on new opportunities for partnership and co-creation,” said Jean Bernou, CEO of McCain Foods Continental Europe. “Responsible food companies need to take a farm to fork approach to food production and actively seek to reduce waste at every stage of the supply chain.”
A final objective of the coalition, which is also collaborating with WRAP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, is to consider legislation that assists or impedes the fight against food waste; there is currently no uniform law in the European Union that allows transfer of liability between the donors and the recipients of food donations.
PepsiCo's senior director of environmental sustainability in Europe, Martyn Seal, said: “Effective collaboration amongst all stakeholders is essential for delivering a sustainable reduction in food waste across the total supply chain. Thanks to this important coalition, key companies are coming together to harness collective knowledge, utilize existing best practices and create engaging communication materials that will drive real action in reducing waste from ‘farm to fork’.”