As the world’s food waste issue becomes more urgent, food companies up and down the supply chain are under pressure to deliver solutions that address the problem and help consumers change their behaviors in their grocery stores and homes. One such effort that surfaced this week is the Consumer Goods Forum’s Food Waste Coalition, which has a goal of “halving per capita global food loss at the retailer and consumer levels,” according to an announcement from CGF.
The Coalition, as it’s being called, includes 14 initial members, many of them major food retailers, including Walmart, Ahold Delhaize, Sainsbury, and Tesco. (See the full list of companies below.)
Through their participation in the Coalition, these companies are currently addressing three commitments:
- To measure and report food loss data by 2021
- To help scale up Champions 12.3’s “10x20x30” initiative, which supports UN SDG 12.3 that aims to halve global food waste by 2030
- To address post-harvest food waste and develop new strategies to curb it
Worldwide, the food waste problem has been steadily gaining attention over the last couple years in the form of food producers and tech startups bringing potential solutions to market. There’s a good reason for this uptick in activity: Roughly 1.3 billon tons of food is wasted globally each year, totaling about $990 billion in economic losses. There are also profoundly disturbing environmental and human costs to food waste: food waste’s global carbon footprint is estimated to be 3.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent of greenhouse gases. That’s to say nothing of food insecurity. In the U.S. alone, rescuing even 15 percent of the food we waste could feed 25 million Americans. In developed countries, the majority of food waste happens at the consumer levels, in retail or in the home.
The new Coalition is a pick of international companies that will also create regional groups to drive change at a local level. “Given the magnitude of the problem of food waste, CGF members are committed to reducing food loss in their own supply chains,” the Coalition states on its website.
The full list of initial companies includes Ahold Delhaize, Barilla, Bel Group, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Majid Al Futtaim, McCain Foods, Merck Animal Health, Metro AG, Migros Ticaret, Nestlé, Sainsbury, Tesco, and Walmart.
This isn’t CGF’s first foray into the food waste category. It has worked in the past with Champions 12.3, publishing a report in 2017 about the potential return on investment from food waste and calling for more standardized date labels on food items.
The Coalition hasn’t yet named any specific strategies around how it will tackle the food waste problem.
The good news is that there are an increasing number of innovative options for the Coalition to choose from as there are many startups are tackling food waste throughout the supply chain. Apeel’s produce-coating technology helps extend the shelf life of produce. AI-based technology like that of Afresh helps stores better manage fresh inventory, so less goes to waste. And food rescue apps like Karma help keep extra food from restaurants out of landfills.
Hopefully, this new Coalition can use some of its resources to join that effort and develop new solutions and processes that get people to not just think about but also act on their behaviors around food waste.