Cutting food loss today is everybody's opportunity

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

By Jürgen Fischer, President of Danfoss Cooling

To achieve the globally-agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build a world with Zero Hunger, taking action is not an option. Already today, we can reduce food loss by broadening our perspective to the entire food system and optimizing it.  Much more government action is though needed to achieve our targets.

Have you ever asked yourself how many resources it takes to produce the food in your fridge? To grow crops, farmers need natural resources, such as land, water and energy. Try to imagine all the hundreds of millions of farmers across the world. They work so hard every day to produce food, and in the end, one-third of their effort is either thrown away by consumers or lost halfway through the food supply, before it even reaches your local supermarket.

If this was not disturbing enough, food loss and waste accounts for about 8% of the global greenhouse gas emissions annually. If this was its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter. Not to mention how food loss and waste exacerbate food insecurity. While a third of all the food is never eaten, 800 million people go to bed hungry every day.

As part of the goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, Sustainable Development Goal 12 seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. SDG 12 target three's ambition is to halve food loss and waste by 2030, something which is a shared ambition of mine. And the business case is here today - food loss and waste cost the global economy $940 billion each year (FAO 2015).

Currently, as part of the global agenda, most of our efforts on mitigating food wastage focus solely on consumers. This is important. Though, we can accelerate our efforts today if we start to manage losses throughout the food supply chain, from producer to consumer. Today, we know that a large share of the world’s food loss stems from inefficient supply chains. Fortunately, we can start reducing food loss immediately by looking at the entire food system.

Cold chains can help build a world with Zero Hunger

Available cold chain technology can reduce food loss by up to 40%. Packing, storing, and transporting perishables at the right temperature extends their lifetime and ensures that more food reaches the tables of today’s growing population. By broadening our perspective to the entire food system and optimizing it, we make sure that resources are no longer wasted in the food supply before they reach our supermarkets.

Simple, low-cost storage methods can drastically cut food loss, especially for small-scale farmers in the developing world, who frequently lose food to factors like spoilage, and transportation damage. In India, the role of post-harvest management in banana farms allows farmers to grow and expand their business. By keeping the bananas cold directly after picking them up, farmers can guarantee a slow ripening process and ensure that the bananas stay fresh the whole journey to the market.

Harvesting innovation for World Food Day  

This Word Food Day, and every day, I am committed to ensure a future where people have access to a safe, plentiful food supply and where less food is lost. Yes, achieving the SDGs and halving food loss and waste by 2030 is possible. But it is a shared responsibility.

The new Champions 12.3 Progress Report shows that much more government action is needed to achieve our targets. Only a few countries, accounting for just 10% of the world’s population, currently measure and publicly report on how much food is lost or wasted within their borders.

The good news is the technology is available. Already today, we can reduce food loss by broadening our perspective to the entire food system and optimizing it. By truly working from farm to fork we can build a world with Zero Hunger. Join me @jfi1963 to raise awareness on the impact of food wastage and seize the opportunity to tackle food loss with available technology.

Man in a supermarket with Danfoss cooling solutions

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