Experts at Interpack 2014 Discuss Reducing Food Waste Along the Supply Chain
Sustainability is an important subject along every link of the food industry’s supply chain, and packaging is no exception. This year at Dusseldorf, Germany’s 2014 packaging trade fair, the second international SAVE FOOD Congress came together for two days to discuss ways to reduce food waste at various points along the value chain of the food industry. Reviewing case studies and best practices around the world, the congress hopes to harness packaging expertise and innovation to make food producers’ supply chains more efficient and free of loss.
First created as a joint venture between the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, the goal of the SAVE FOOD Congress is to bring industry leaders together to find mutually beneficial solutions to food waste problems – especially through the development of improved packaging technology.
Participants at this year’s conferenceturned to Kenyaas its main case study, examining food loss issues among the country’s fisheries and mango producers and assessing the results of better processing and packaging in order to preserve product and prevent loss. According to reports, improvements implemented through Kenya’s SAVE FOOD Mango Project could save the industry 30,000 tons of product annually which could be used for export to increase revenue substantially.
While the conference is still in its nascent stages, its early successes have already succeeded in highlighting the importance of attacking food loss issues from every angle including packaging and the supply chain.
“ The SAVE FOOD conference has clearly shown that we need to address the problem of food waste and losses at all levels of the food chain,”FAO Assistant Director-General Ren Wang told Pack World magazine. “We simply should not continue to waste and lose food that nobody eats. This is a non-productive use of scarce resources like energy, land, and water and contributes to climate change. Governments, the private sector, and civil society need to cooperate closely to develop better policies, and affordable and sustainable technological innovations, and promote behavior change to ensure that food is being consumed in a more efficient way.”
Ireland could create template for global food sustainability
Leveraging innovation could cultivate new agricultural breakthroughs, making Ireland the most responsible and sustainable food producer on Earth, according to a renowned local luminary.
Economist and author David McWilliams has insisted that Ireland can become a pivotal carbon-neutral, resource-efficient and sustainable food producer – possibly the most influential on the planet.
He does acknowledge, however, that there are considerable obstacles on the country’s trailblazing journey to complete energy-efficient and sustainable food production.
McWilliams also claims that the widely-held belief within the EU that reducing food production thus reduces carbon emissions does not tally.
“For the European Union to get an aggregate reduction in carbon emissions,” said McWilliams at the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference. “It would seem to me much more logical to favour those countries that have had an evolutionary, ecological or environmental gift, in order to actually produce more, not less, because your input-output ratio is so much lower than it is either in the parched Mediterranean or in the frozen tundra of the North.”
Reflecting on the situation in the US, McWilliams said its agriculture output had tripled between 1948 and 2015, with exponential gains in efficiency. Surprisingly, agriculture only contributes to 7.5% of total US greenhouse gases, far below the 30% attributed to cars.
“I think American culture is changing, at least when you see it from the outside,” said McWilliams said of President Biden’s approach. “He's saying, ‘There's no point being wealthy if the wealth is only in the hands of a small minority. The wealth has to trickle down to everybody else.’”
McWilliams concluded that for Irish agriculture to modernise and grow, it should use one of Ireland’s leading sectors – technology – as a frame of reference. It currently generates over $25 billion in exports.