Tracking progress on cutting food waste and losses

In 2015, countries committed to the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, calling on the world to cut food waste and losses in half by 2030. To put this goal in context – according to the FAO, one-third of the world’s food is lost or wasted, totaling more than a billion tons annually and resulting in approximately 940 billion dollars in global economic losses. Furthermore, nearly 821 million people in 2017 were estimated to face chronic food deprivation.

Now a group of sustainable food champions from around the world are tracking progress toward this fast-approaching target – and finding that the private sector has seized the opportunity to tackle food loss and waste.

The new Champions 12.3 Progress Report shows that companies are embracing food loss and waste reductions consistent with SDG Target 12.3, with nearly two-thirds of the world’s 50 largest food companies now participating in programs with a food loss and waste reduction target. The report also finds increasing evidence that companies and countries are measuring their loss and waste and publishing their results, and acting to put new policies and programs in place.

SDG Target 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2018 Progress Report was launched alongside three major announcements from governments and businesses pioneering new efforts to target, measure, and act.

“In a world where one in nine people go hungry, it is a tragedy that a third of all food is lost or wasted. Today’s Champions 12.3 report highlights that great progress has been made but we need more countries and companies to step up,” said Dave Lewis, Chair of Champions 12.3 and Group Chief Executive of Tesco.

The series of announcements from leaders who are part of the Champions 12.3 coalition were made at the start of the 73rdsession of the UN General Assembly in New York, and include:

  • Target: Leading Food Brands Embrace Targets and Transparency to Reduce Food Waste

Lewis announced that 10 of the world’s largest food brands – including Mars, Unilever and General Mills — have not only set targets to halve their food waste by 2030, but also committed to publish the food waste data for their operations within the next 12 months, and take concrete steps to reduce food waste in the supply chain and in customers’ homes. Of the 10 brands, six have made this commitment for their global operations and four for their European or UK businesses. In addition, 27 of Tesco’s largest suppliers, responsible for over half of the retailer’s own label fresh food sales in the UK have now published their food loss and waste data.

“Publishing food waste data helps us to take targeted action to tackle the problem together from farm to fork,” added Lewis.

  • Measure: New Online Site Brings Global Food Loss and Waste Data to Fingertips

In a major advancement for food loss and waste data, Marcus Gover, Chief Executive of WRAP, announced the Food Waste Atlas. The Atlas simplifies finding quantified data that companies and governments can use when measuring their food loss and waste. Food loss and waste data by food type, geography, or stage in the supply chain can now be found in one place. It also enables companies and governments to post their completed inventories in congruence with the “Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard.”

Developed by WRAP and World Resources Institute, and with financial backing from the Walmart Foundation, the Food Waste Atlas already contains data from all parts of the supply chain and from over 190 countries.  Its supporters include UN Environment, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and Wageningen University & Research Centre.

“I am delighted to share the Food Waste Atlas with Champions 12.3 today,” said Gover. “Atlas is a hugely important tool to find and report data on food loss and waste to help companies and governments benchmark action globally. Closer to home, we are also unveiling the first Food Waste Reduction Roadmap. This is a UK-wide commitment by all major retailers and more than 50 large food businesses to ‘Target, Measure, Act’ and deliver their part in achieving SDG 12.3. Working with the IGD, WRAP has set out the key milestones UK businesses must reach, and together with Atlas the Roadmap will be an important part of the mechanism to help us all win the food waste fight.”

  • Act: Africa Launches First Strategy to Halve Post-Harvest Losses

Ambassador Josefa Sacko, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, announced “The Continental Post Harvest Loss Management Strategy.” The Strategy details a suite of innovations in policies, technology, market infrastructure, capacity building, and investment needed to achieve a target for halving post-harvest losses in Africa by 2025. As the first-ever post-harvest loss strategy for the continent, it is a landmark for Africa and the Union’s 55 member states.

“For grains alone, the value of post-harvest losses in Africa are estimated to equal $4 billion per year, an amount that could help feed 48 million people,” said Sacko. “Tackling food loss is critical to Africa. Hence it is time for us to take action, and our new strategy is the foundation for that action.”

“The African Union’s new strategy clearly links reducing farm losses with reducing hunger. With joint efforts of private and public sectors in co-managed innovative partnerships we need to massively invest in zero food losses, and also support farmers’ in building sustainable livelihoods, which can have ripple effects for generations to come,” said Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN Organizations for Food and Agriculture.

The report finds that an estimated 30 percent of the world’s population now lives in a country or regional bloc with a specific food loss and waste reduction target. These include the African Union, European Union, Australia, Japan, and the United States. Few countries have started measuring their food loss and waste, but the number of national-level initiatives to tackle food loss and waste continues to grow. The United Kingdom, United States, Denmark and the Netherlands are emerging as world leaders setting an example for other nations.

“In the coming year, the world needs to increase its financial investment in reducing the amount of food in Africa and Asia that is lost before hitting the market. At the other end of the food chain, governments and companies should focus on helping reduce consumer and household-level waste. If we can tackle both ends of the food chain, we stand a great chance of halving food loss and waste by 2030,” said Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow and Director, Food Loss and Waste at World Resources Institute.

Read SDG Target 12:3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2018 Progress Report here: https://champions123.org/2018-progress-report/

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