THE RESPLENDENT grounds of the Nestlé headquarters on the shoreline of Lake Geneva was the location of the 4th annual SAVE FOOD meeting on May 12, in Vevey, Switzerland. Under the themes of Public-Private Sector Collaborations and Entrepreneurial and Innovative Initiatives, over one hundred attendees from the international development community, the packaging industry and civil society gathered to explore both regional and global developments and opportunities to combat the scourge of food loss and waste.
Back in 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO and Messe Düsseldorf in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme launched the joint SAVE FOOD initiative. SAVE FOOD is designed to build synergy and collaboration among all the various actors across the globe working to protect food resources. Organized by Messe Düsseldorf in the years between the Interpack packaging exposition, the SAVE FOOD Annual Meeting is an opportunity for partners to detail their work and learning experiences, network among likeminded industry players and explore possible collaborations in an environment highly focused on food loss and waste prevention.
The meeting turned the spotlight onto the role of corporate polices in reducing waste in production and distribution. Nestlé shared a time-bound commitment to eliminating food waste entering the waste streams in factories and distribution centers by 2020. In the last ten years, the Swiss-based multi-national corporation have managed to halve the amount of waste for disposal generated in their factories. They have launched a zero waste tool kit which guides factory management with best approaches to reduce waste.
The Global FoodBanking Network, a network of food banks across the world, in collaboration with Nestlé, also announced their plans to develop a “good practice toolkit” for food donations, with emphasis on food safety and brand protection.
Tetra Pak, a multinational food packaging and processing company which develops packaging solutions directed at developing countries, also unveiled its ‘deeper in the pyramid’ approach which aims to reach smaller-sized agro industry processers with safe, lower cost packaging solutions. Hemant Krashak, Product Director at Tetra Pak, shared that his company was now more committed to engaging smaller-scaled businesses that serve communities in deep rural areas.
Marc-Peter Zander from XCOM GmbH Africa showcased best practices in the mango value chain in Kenya, highlighting the successes of the SAVE FOOD Mango Project in the East African country. His presentation demonstrated how SAVE FOOD’s market-based approach in the mango value chain has benefitted numerous actors, from farmers to consumers.
The retail sector was also well represented. Thomas Pocher from E. LECLER, an organization composed of independent store owners in northern France, spoke of the transformative role that retailers can take in reducing food waste at both retail and consumer levels. Mr. Pocher cited his own store as an example, pointing to wide scale food waste reductions and the renewed motivation of his staff now that they were redistributing food instead of throwing it out. Pocher described the change to redistribution as a revolution in the work morale of his staff.
McCain industries, a Canadian processed food company, and one of the world’s largest producers of potato chips, also presented a case study from their Bon et Bien programme. The Bon et Bien programme contracts unemployed people to harvest abandoned crops from fields and orchards and to transform them into items such as soups and milkshakes. It exemplifies multi stakeholder partnerships with cooperation from E. Leclerc stores (which the foods are then sold) and employment bureau Randstad.
SAVE FOOD and Bologna-based Industria Macchine Automatiche S.p.A (IMA) a world leader in designing and manufacturing automatic machines for packaging announced a plan to create a sustainable food packaging hub in Emilia Romagna in Italy. In this arrangement, IMA will provide funding to develop a center which researches sustainable and appropriate packaging technologies and solutions, and which offers training to entrepreneurs. FAO SAVE FOOD will provide technical guidance in the establishment and operations of the center.
SAVE FOOD programme coordinator, Robert van Otterdijk was interviewed by event moderator Eamonn Bates about the goals of the SAVE FOOD programme. Mr. van Otterdijk provided a broad overview of the programme and opened the door for partnership. He explored the wide range of opportunities for direct collaboration with the private sector in order to carry out activities and implement projects.
The one day meeting came to a close with a panel discussion on ‘Learnings, ideas and opportunities to further reduce food waste in the supply chain’’. During the lively discussion, participants shared ideas on how to change consumer behaviour and how to support small-scaled businesses that are working to reduce food waste.
Panel members advised against bashing consumers, opting instead to empower them through creative proposals such as recipes and applications for reducing food waste. The important role of sensitizing children from an early age was also highlighted.
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