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UN embarks on drive to reduce food waste

By Carina Perkins , 24-Jan-2013

UN embarks on drive to reduce food waste

The United Nations (UN) has launched a new global campaign aimed at cutting the amount of food thrown away by consumers and retailers.

The ‘Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint’ campaign, unveiled this week by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), aims to tackle the 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost or wasted each year by targeting consumers, retailers and the hospitality industry.

With partners including the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Feeding the 5,000 and national governments, the campaign will provide a “global vision and information-sharing portal for the many and diverse initiatives currently under way around the world”, the FAO said.

A campaign website will provide tips on reducing food waste for consumers and retailers, as well as the ability for users to make food waste pledges. It will also act as a platform for existing food waste campaigns to get their voices heard.

According to data released by the FAO, as much as a third of food produced globally is lost or wasted. Although 95% of loss and waste in developing countries is the result of food supply chain problems, such as limitations in harvesting, storage and infrastructure systems, waste at retail and consumption is much higher in the developed world.

FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva said: “In industrialised regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tonnes annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption.

“This is more than the total net food production of sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.”

With the world’s resources already stretched to breaking point, food waste has major environmental consequences and was a key part of the discussions held by global governments during the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012. The FAO said food would be a “vital element” on the 10-year Framework of Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Patterns agreed at the summit.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said: “There can be no other area that is perhaps so emblematic of the opportunities for a far more resource-efficient and sustainable world – and there is no other issue that can unite north and south and consumers and producers everywhere in a common cause.”

The FAO said the Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign was in support of the SAVE FOOD Initiative – which aims to reduce food loss and waste across the entire food chain – and the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Initiatives

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