A consortium of 14 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers have joined together to form a CEO-led Coalition of Action on Food Waste. Launched by the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), the coalition’s goal is to decrease per capita global food loss at the retailer and consumer levels by as much as 50 percent.
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“We are bringing together retailers and manufacturers from around the world, mainly in food and beverage, to help conquer food waste,” Ignacio Gavilan, CGF’s director of environmental sustainability, tells Food Quality & Safety.
In 2015, CGF published a resolution to cut food waste in half, but that was aimed at disposal methods. “We realized that commitment wasn’t enough and it was very difficult to track, because companies were not communicating well, so we decided to create this coalition so companies could show they are serious about this,” Gavilan says. “Many companies hesitate to share numbers of food waste, but this makes things transparent.”
There are three main elements that all in the coalition must adhere to. “The first is committing to a reporting plan, as we need to understand how [participants] are measuring and reporting their food loss data, and what they do,” Gavilan says. The second element comes from an initiative by the World Resources Institute called 10x20x30, where 10 retailers appoint 20 suppliers to cap food waste by half by 2030. Those in the coalition agree to scale up the numbers. “We partnered with them to make these 20x100x30, which engages more retailers and suppliers,” Gavilan adds.
Finally, members have committed to address food loss at the post-harvest or on-farm level, which is responsible for creating 30 percent of food waste.
“We are asking companies to be more open on their contractual relationships and accept all the products to get consumers used to ugly produce, which is completely edible,” Gavilan says. For example, if a major retailer tells a farmer they want perfectly rounded lemons, it could mean 50 percent of the harvest stays on the ground because they don’t meet the criteria. The coalition will engage with stakeholders to develop innovative and effective food loss prevention strategies and eliminate much of this waste.
“The launch is a positive and important step to creating sustainable food strategies and preventing loss, and we look forward to seeing the impact the coalition will have on the issue,” Gavilan says. “There are a number of things that companies can do by itself, but it’s always better to do it together.”
The members of the coalition are 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.