This world wastes an astonishing amount of food. About one third of all the food that is produced is wasted. A 2011, United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report estimated in 2007, 1.6 billion tons of food was wasted. As a comparison, 6 billion tons of food was produced globally that year. The United States alone spends $218 billion a year growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food that is never eaten.
We know food waste impacts the environment and the world, but it also impacts the economy costing consumers the most. There is clear economic value in preventing food waste. Farmers, companies and retailers alike can save resources and have a positive impact on the economy.
ReFED, a collaboration of over 30 business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders committed to reducing food waste in the United States, has established a movement around this very topic. By creating a core economic model to understand the true cost of waste and the most cost-effective ways to reduce food waste, the organization has identified 27 opportunities that could generate $10 billion of economic value, $5.6 billion annual consumer savings and $1.9 billion annual business profit potential.
As the President of Food Care, Sealed Air’s food and beverage packaging and hygiene business, I take the global mission to reduce food waste seriously. Not only is improving food security and access critical, but preventing this type of waste just makes good business sense.
With food waste occurring at all stages of the supply chain, there are plenty of opportunities to reduce waste, add value and produce economic gains.
The FAO has published its own set of tips for reducing waste along the supply chain, noting that better resource allocation and improved technology could be instrumental in preventing food waste during the harvesting and processing phases of food production.
As more strategies emerge for addressing food waste, we have the opportunity to revolutionize how we respond to these challenges to impact the world and create a better way for life.