Progress re­port on SDG Tar­get 12.3 on food loss and waste

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - By Martins Hile

Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa (SSA) has the largest share of im­me­di­ate posthar­vest losses at 39%, fol­lowed by south and south-east Asian re­gions at 32%.

The Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion of the United Na­tions (FAO) says ap­prox­i­mately one-third of all food pro­duced in the world is never con­sumed. Mea­sured by weight, that is about 1.3 bil­lion tonnes of food that is lost or wasted ev­ery year. From the pro­duc­tion stage at the farm to fi­nal con­sump­tion, food is lost or wasted through­out the sup­ply chain.

The mag­ni­tude of food loss and waste (FLW) has sig­nif­i­cant ad­verse im­pacts. On the one hand, FLW is re­spon­si­ble for $940 bil­lion in eco­nomic losses; on the other hand, it gen­er­ates 8 per cent of green­house gas emis­sions an­nu­ally. Mean­while, amid such colos­sal im­pacts, about 800 mil­lion peo­ple still suf­fer from hunger. To re­duce these hu­man, eco­nomic, and en­vi­ron­men­tal costs aris­ing from in­ef­fi­cient use of re­sources, Goal 12 of the Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) aims to pro­mote re­spon­si­ble con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion pat­terns. Tar­get 12.3 fo­cuses on halv­ing per capita global food waste at the re­tail and con­sumer lev­els and re­duce food losses along pro­duc­tion and sup­ply chains, in­clud­ing post-har­vest losses, by 2030.

Fol­low­ing the adop­tion of the SGDs last year, var­i­ous coun­tries, com­pa­nies and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions have been ramp­ing up ef­forts to­wards ad­dress­ing food loss and waste. A new re­port was re­leased last month, which assesses global ac­tions aimed at re­duc­ing FLW. The re­port, SDG Tar­get 12.3 on Food Loss and Waste: 2016 Progress Re­port, was pub­lished by Cham­pi­ons 12.3, a coali­tion of lead­ers from gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and civil so­ci­ety around the world who are ded­i­cated to mo­bil­is­ing ac­tion, and ac­cel­er­at­ing progress to­ward achiev­ing SDG Tar­get 12.3.

Re­gional trends in food loss and waste

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the North Amer­ica and Ocea­nia re­gions have the high­est share of avail­able food that is lost or wasted (at 42 per cent). The re­gion with the least share of FLW is Latin Amer­ica (15 per cent), while the fig­ure for sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa is 23 per cent. The re­port also shows that dif­fer­ent re­gions of the world ac­count for vary­ing de­grees of food loss and waste along the food sup­ply chain. Food losses at the point of har­vest­ing on the farm, as well as at the han­dling, trans­port­ing, stor­age, pro­cess­ing and pack­ag­ing stages are more preva­lent in de­vel­op­ing re­gions. Sub­Sa­ha­ran Africa (SSA) has the largest share of im­me­di­ate post-har­vest losses at 39%, fol­lowed by south and south-east Asian re­gions at 32%. In SSA, post-har­vest losses are es­ti­mated at $4 bil­lion per year. All this has im­pli­ca­tion for the abil­ity of farm­ers to earn de­cent in­comes on their agri­cul­tural pro­duce. Food wastage (food sorted out due to qual­ity, food pur­chased or cooked but not eaten and is dis­carded or left to spoil) – as op­posed to food losses (food that gets spilled or spoilt be­fore it reaches the mar­kets) – is more preva­lent in de­vel­oped re­gions. North Amer­ica has the high­est share of food waste at the point of con­sump­tion (61%). As a re­sult, Cham­pi­ons 12.3 is ad­vo­cat­ing for ef­fi­ciency in the global food sys­tem. The group's re­port rec­om­mends that na­tions, cities and busi­nesses in the food sup­ply chain need to move quickly to set tar­gets, mea­sure progress and take ac­tion to re­duce food loss and waste.

Mea­sur­ing progress

No­table progress has been achieved over the last one year. In June, the Wash­ing­ton DC-based World Re­sources In­sti­tute, which is also as­so­ci­ated with Cham­pi­ons 12.3, launched The Food Loss and Waste Ac­count­ing and Re­port­ing Stan­dard (or FLW Stan­dard) as a global stan­dard to pro­vide guid­ance for quan­ti­fy­ing and re­port­ing the weight of food and as­so­ci­ated ined­i­ble items re­moved along the food sup­ply chain. This stan­dard is ex­pected to en­able coun­tries, cities, com­pa­nies, and other en­ti­ties to de­velop in­ven­to­ries of how much FLW is gen­er­ated and where it goes. As rec­om­mended by the Cham­pi­ons 12.3 re­port, mea­sure­ment of FLW is nec­es­sary to be able to man­age the phe­nom­e­non.

Also, the Con­sumer Goods Fo­rum (CGF), a global network of over 400 re­tail­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers, ser­vice providers and other stake­hold­ers, passed a “Food Waste Res­o­lu­tion” last year. CGF an­nounced a com­mit­ment to halv­ing food waste within the or­gan­i­sa­tion's in­di­vid­ual re­tail and man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions by 2025 against a 2016 base­line. Com­pa­nies such as Unilever and Nestlé are mea­sur­ing their food loss and waste. Tesco, the Bri­tish multi­na­tional gro­cery com­pany has been con­duct­ing and re­port­ing an­nu­ally its FLW in­ven­tory since 2013.

One no­table step by Africa in the di­rec­tion of achiev­ing SDG Tar­get 12.3 is the adop­tion of the Mal­abo Dec­la­ra­tion on Ac­cel­er­ated Agri­cul­tural Growth and Trans­for­ma­tion for Shared Pros­per­ity and Im­proved Liveli­hoods. African Union Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment had adopted the Mal­abo Dec­la­ra­tion in 2014, call­ing on African coun­tries to “halve the cur­rent lev­els of post-har­vest losses by the year 2025.”

An­other pos­i­tive devel­op­ment in Africa with re­gard to re­duc­tion of food loss and waste is the re­cent launch of Yield­Wise by the Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion. The $130mil­lion ini­tia­tive is tack­ling food loss and waste in the pro­duc­tion of fruits, veg­eta­bles and sta­ple crops in Kenya, Nige­ria and Tan­za­nia. Yield­Wise is pro­vid­ing train­ing for farm­ers, help­ing to cre­ate the tools for mea­sur­ing and track­ing sup­ply chain losses, and also fa­cil­i­tat­ing buyer agree­ments be­tween farmer groups and multi­na­tional com­pa­nies. The Rock­e­feller Foun­da­tion, through the ini­tia­tive, is work­ing with com­pa­nies like Dan­gote Farms to build pro­cess­ing in­dus­tries. The foun­da­tion is also part­ner­ing with stake­hold­ers to pro­vide stor­age fa­cil­i­ties.

Most of the food losses that oc­cur in SSA are due to im­proper har­vest­ing prac­tices, lack of stor­age fa­cil­i­ties and poor road in­fra­struc­ture. The In­ter­na­tional Fer­tiliser Devel­op­ment Cen­ter (IFDC), a non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion (NGO) seek­ing to im­prove food se­cu­rity, re­cently launched the Am­bi­ent Ware Potato Store in Kenya. The new stor­age fa­cil­ity is touted to elim­i­nate up to 40 per cent loss in poor post-har­vest han­dling of pota­toes. With the fa­cil­ity, farm­ers can keep their pota­toes while wait­ing to sell them at favourable prices.

In­creas­ing food se­cu­rity

Food in­se­cu­rity is most preva­lent in SSA with one-quar­ter of the re­gion's adult pop­u­la­tion fac­ing se­vere food in­se­cu­rity. There­fore, re­duc­ing food loss and waste will in­crease food se­cu­rity in the re­gion. Gov­ern­ments and com­pa­nies in­volved in the food sup­ply chain in Africa need to col­lab­o­rate to set tar­gets on FLW at na­tional and sub-na­tional lev­els, in­clud­ing cities. In­vest­ment in food loss and waste re­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies, bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture to im­prove stor­age, pro­cess­ing, and trans­porta­tion is crit­i­cal.

The Cham­pi­ons 12.3 re­port is ex­pected to pro­vide greater clar­ity about the scope of SDG Tar­get 12.3 and guide stake­hold­ers in set­ting tar­gets for re­duc­tion of food loss and waste; quan­ti­fy­ing and re­port­ing on FLW and mon­i­tor­ing progress over time; and scal­ing up poli­cies, in­vest­ment and ini­tia­tives that re­duce FLW.

Re­design­ing the food value chain

For the de­vel­oped re­gions where most food waste oc­curs at the con­sump­tion stage of the food sup­ply chain, ac­tions must be taken to ef­fi­ciently al­lo­cate sur­plus food. To main­tain their high qual­ity stan­dards, re­tail­ers dis­card fruits or veg­eta­bles that have blem­ishes. How­ever, given the need to re­duce food wastage, some fruits and veg­eta­bles with blem­ishes are now be­ing re­branded and sold in su­per­mar­kets in some de­vel­oped coun­tries.

Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Health and Food Safety, Vyte­nis An­driukaitis, who is a mem­ber of the coali­tion said, “To fight food waste, we need to re­design our food value chain, elim­i­nat­ing waste at each stage and mak­ing any sur­plus food read­ily avail­able to those in need." In March, Tesco rolled out its “Com­mu­nity Food Con­nec­tion” with FareShare FoodCloud – a so­lu­tion de­signed to con­nect char­i­ties and com­mu­nity groups to sur­plus food at lo­cal stores. In part­ner­ship with FareShare, Tesco links un­sold but still safe-to-eat food items with lo­cal food char­i­ties, thereby re­duc­ing the amount of food that goes to waste. A num­ber of restau­rants are in­no­vat­ing by us­ing apps to sell left­overs at dis­counted prices.

If or­gan­i­sa­tions can cut waste in other crit­i­cal busi­ness pro­cesses, it is im­por­tant to cut food wastage as well. Most def­i­nitely less peo­ple will go hun­gry. An­other strat­egy be­ing ad­vo­cated to re­duce food loss and waste is to en­sure what is not needed is not pro­duced. This strat­egy will re­quire less use of nat­u­ral re­sources, and the im­pact on cli­mate change will re­duce.

A dump site for wasted food items

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