In association with EuroCommerce - Europeans throw away more than 88 million tonnes of food every year. If there is no action to change this, food waste could rise to over 120 million tonnes by 2020.
Plenty of opportunities
Retailers and wholesalers call on national governments and the EU to make it easier to reduce food waste and increase food donation. Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce, said: “It is a scandal, both environmentally and socially, that wholesome food goes to waste. We call upon the EU and national governments to look carefully at their rules and help address the obstacles holding us all back from exploiting the potential for moving closer to eliminating food waste.”
In this context, retailers and wholesalers are encouraged by the European Parliament own-initiative report drafted by Biljana Borzan MEP (HR, S&D) and endorsed by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee. The draft report recommends that governments support these actions, for example through tax exemptions for food donations. The own-initiative report also calls for an EU food waste hierarchy and definition. As the recent European Court of Auditors’ report on food waste also suggests, there are plenty of opportunities and solutions available, without the need for additional legislation or costs.
However, retailers have not waited for government action to be part of the solution. Christian Verschueren added: “Although retailers account for no more than 5% of the waste generated, we recognise our role in reducing waste, starting with our own operations, but also increasingly encouraging major reductions in food waste where it occurs most: in the home and upstream in the food chain.”
To document the many ways in which retailers help to reduce food waste and loss, EuroCommerce released a report “Rising to the Food Waste Challenge” setting out best practice and case studies from its own members, such as :
• reducing waste in their own stores by improving inventories
• working with farmers and suppliers to better match production with retail demand
• encouraging consumers to make the most of the food they buy in simple ways, such as explaining the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates, and suggesting recipes for using up leftovers
• processing unattractive but nutritious fruit and vegetables into salads or soups
• working with food banks and charities to donate food that is not sold.
These are all in line with the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Food Waste Resolution, a pledge by leading food companies and retailers to halve food wasted in their operations by 2025. The report was released and discussed at a dinner hosted by Mrs Borzan, who explicitly recognised the successful voluntary action already being adopted in different parts of the value chain, and in particular retail.
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