End to endemic food waste: Kerry unveils estimator tool, spotlighting preservation as “crucial to change”
FAO says industry must “prioritize efforts and initiatives that cut food loss sustainably”
29 Sep 2022 --- With rising prices, disturbances in delivery chains and climate change, the world is facing a food crisis. In light of the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, marked by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, FoodIngredientsFirst speaks with Kerry, which has launched a Food Waste Estimator to raise awareness and tackle global food security.
Every year around 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown away. By 2030, that figure is expected to rise to 2.1 billion. Reducing food waste is essential when the number of people affected by hunger continues to rapidly increase, and tons of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day.
Studies from WRAP UK and Martindale et al, show that up to 50% of consumer waste can be prevented by shelf life extension, highlights Emma Cahill, global marketing director, food protection and preservation at Kerry.
Kerry’s Food Waste Estimator unveiled
Launched today to mark the UN International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, Kerry’s Food Waste Estimator is pegged as a “first-of-its-kind interactive tool” that links shelf life extension to food waste reduction potential.
In addition, the estimator enables food manufacturers to determine the impact they can have in reducing global food waste by using shelf life extension technology across their portfolios. Research has shown that approximately 50% of consumer waste could be prevented via shelf life extension technologies – a saving that would meaningfully reduce world hunger.
“Our goal is to translate the data into actionable insight for the industry to come together to eliminate food loss and waste sources throughout the supply chain and even in our own homes.”
The Food Waste Estimator tool leverages the food loss and waste protocol’s method of analyzing global and regional market data on food waste and environmental impact to create actionable insights for manufacturers and consumers.
“Our goal in creating this was to take data that may have been intimidating to understand and take action upon and create a meaningful link to the industry and how actionable and positive it can be to reduce waste where there’s room to protect and extend the shelf life of a product.”
Many consumers hit hardest by cost-of-living increases are finding themselves only able to purchase lower volumes of food, Cahill highlights.
“Today is a reminder of the precarious global situation of food security. It is important to remember that individual actions at home can also have a big impact. If the world reversed the current trend of food loss and waste, we could protect enough resources to feed three times the amount of undernourished people on the planet today,” adds Bert de Vegt, global VP for food protection and reservation at Kerry.
What more can be done to eradicate food waste?
Kerry has committed to halving its food waste by 2030 and zero food waste to landfill by 2025, as part of its Beyond the Horizon strategy and has many zero waste to landfill plants already ahead of schedule.”
“We achieve this by capturing the nutritional value of multiple streams within our production sites and helping our customers do the same. Where we have the opportunity, we use our technologies to convert those resources into more food for people as our priority,” says Cahill.
In particular, Kerry helps to reduce waste by valorizing it as animal feed, recovering energy from its operations in various ways, and optimizing its processes to improve yield.
Kerry’s food protection and preservation technologies include those that leverage fermentation, conventional organic acid-based preservatives – like propionates and acetates – and taste-led ingredients.
“Our portfolio includes conventional preservatives from our Niacet acquisition such as propionates and acetates as well as our clean label portfolio of products across vinegar and fermentate-based products, plant extract, and functional/flavor led multifunctional systems,” Cahill details.
She notes that each year, Kerry’s preservation portfolio protects and extends the shelf life of over 34.5 billion loaves of bread and 43.5 billion servings of meat per year.
Food chain transparency
There has been an increased consumer concern for the safety of their food as more headlines reveal recalls, contaminations and supply chain challenges.
Cahill warns there is less trust in the food chain and more scrutiny of the healthfulness and safety of food choices. “Sixty percent of consumers are more concerned about the safety of their food due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The categories of greatest scrutiny in the home are meat and plant-based meat, while on the [dining out] menu, it is salads and fresh juices that create the greatest concern in consumer’s minds,” she comments.
“Transparency of supply chains and education/communication of food safety checks is welcomed by consumers looking to make informed choices for themselves and their families. Where consumers do not feel confident about food safety, there will be additional waste.”
Food security hanging in the balance
There is an urgent need to accelerate action to reduce food loss and waste. The UN estimates that a third of all food is wasted, urging a global focus on reducing food loss and waste instead of producing more food, to maximize what is already produced.
Consumers’ and manufacturers’ efforts to reduce food waste can significantly impact a more sustainable food ecosystem, which is critical in solving the global challenge of food security.
The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains.
Pressingly, an estimated 3.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to a healthy diet, and some 828 million people go hungry.
With eight years left to reach the target, the urgency for scaling up action to reduce food loss and waste cannot be overemphasized, stresses the UN.
By Elizabeth Green
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