Event Website

http://www.vet.upenn.edu/research/news-events-conferences/last-food-mile-conference

Start Date

9-12-2014 8:30 AM

End Date

9-12-2014 8:35 AM

Description

The Challenge and Opportunity in Food Waste

The problem of global food waste was referred to as a “conundrum” in a recent NY Times article by Emma Bryce. It is indeed a conundrum, and much more. It is a complex problem at global, national, regional, and individual levels. In short, food waste is a massive challenge, with elements of a “social mess.” But it is also a colossal opportunity -- and one that cannot be missed.

The world’s population currently exceeds 7.2 billion, of which nearly one billion are hungry and nearly two billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies per FAO. Yet estimates of global food waste and losses along the supply chain range from 30% to 50% of all food produced for human consumption, with a corresponding waste of all associated resources (most notably water) and substantial environmental harm. By 2050, just 35 years from now, the global population will exceed 9 billion. This brings the ultimate (and urgent) challenge: successfully feeding that increased population while preserving the environment.

Feeding 9 billion global citizens in a sustainable manner requires optimizing use of food resources and all associated inputs. In the developed world, this requires mindset change. We need to recognize excess food as a valuable resource – not as waste – and seek to optimize it. Such change starts with increased awareness and education, but it hinges on action. We must overcome the culture of abundance which leads to massive waste from farm to market to fork. Consumers and retailers must collaborate, changing attitudes toward “perfect” produce and 24x7 stocks of infinite variety. Retailers must alter operations to reduce “accepted” levels of food waste and efficiently repurpose excess. Legislators must enact change to demystify “sell-by” dates and incentivize alternatives for excess food beyond landfill. Producers and retailers must form innovative partnerships to redirect excess food to high value uses. Forward-thinking organizations that embrace this opportunity will achieve triple bottom line benefits in the form of an inspired workforce, improved community relations by reducing environmental benefit, and financial savings through reduced costs. In so doing, they will drive positive change through the food system.

Such change is hard, but essential: A world of hunger, rising obesity due to poor nutrition, resource shortages and environmental damage is not sustainable -- nor is it a secure world.

Comments

Steve Finn was additionally the moderator for this panel.

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Dec 9th, 8:30 AM Dec 9th, 8:35 AM

Panel III: Food Waste Reduction, Recovery, and Recycling - Overview

The Challenge and Opportunity in Food Waste

The problem of global food waste was referred to as a “conundrum” in a recent NY Times article by Emma Bryce. It is indeed a conundrum, and much more. It is a complex problem at global, national, regional, and individual levels. In short, food waste is a massive challenge, with elements of a “social mess.” But it is also a colossal opportunity -- and one that cannot be missed.

The world’s population currently exceeds 7.2 billion, of which nearly one billion are hungry and nearly two billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies per FAO. Yet estimates of global food waste and losses along the supply chain range from 30% to 50% of all food produced for human consumption, with a corresponding waste of all associated resources (most notably water) and substantial environmental harm. By 2050, just 35 years from now, the global population will exceed 9 billion. This brings the ultimate (and urgent) challenge: successfully feeding that increased population while preserving the environment.

Feeding 9 billion global citizens in a sustainable manner requires optimizing use of food resources and all associated inputs. In the developed world, this requires mindset change. We need to recognize excess food as a valuable resource – not as waste – and seek to optimize it. Such change starts with increased awareness and education, but it hinges on action. We must overcome the culture of abundance which leads to massive waste from farm to market to fork. Consumers and retailers must collaborate, changing attitudes toward “perfect” produce and 24x7 stocks of infinite variety. Retailers must alter operations to reduce “accepted” levels of food waste and efficiently repurpose excess. Legislators must enact change to demystify “sell-by” dates and incentivize alternatives for excess food beyond landfill. Producers and retailers must form innovative partnerships to redirect excess food to high value uses. Forward-thinking organizations that embrace this opportunity will achieve triple bottom line benefits in the form of an inspired workforce, improved community relations by reducing environmental benefit, and financial savings through reduced costs. In so doing, they will drive positive change through the food system.

Such change is hard, but essential: A world of hunger, rising obesity due to poor nutrition, resource shortages and environmental damage is not sustainable -- nor is it a secure world.

https://repository.upenn.edu/thelastfoodmile/sessions/session/18

 

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