09/29/2022 — Amid rising prices, supply chain disruptions and climate change, the world faces a food crisis. Acknowledging the International Day of Food Loss and Waste Awareness commemorated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to Kerry, who started a Food Waste Estimator to raise awareness and address global food security.
Around 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown away every year. By 2030, this number is expected to rise to 2.1 billion. Reducing food waste is imperative as the number of hungry people continues to rise rapidly and tons of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day.
Studies by WRAP UK and Martindale et al. show that up to 50% of consumer waste can be avoided by extending shelf life, says Emma Cahill, global marketing director, food protection and preservation at Kerry.
Kerry’s Food Waste Estimator featured
Kerry’s Food Waste Estimator, launched today to mark the UN’s International Day of Raising Food Loss and Waste Awareness, is billed as “the first interactive tool of its kind” that links shelf life extensions with the potential to reduce food waste.
Additionally, the estimator enables food manufacturers to determine the impact they can have in reducing global food waste by deploying shelf life extension technologies across their portfolio. Research has shown that around 50% of consumer waste could be prevented through shelf life extension technologies – a saving that would significantly reduce world hunger.
“Our goal is to turn the data into actionable insights for the industry to eliminate food losses and sources of waste throughout the supply chain and even within our own homes.”
The Food Waste Estimator tool leverages the Food Loss and Waste Protocol methodology to analyze global and regional market data on food waste and environmental impact to generate actionable insights for producers and consumers.
“Our goal in creating it was to understand potentially daunting data, take action and create a meaningful connection to the industry and show how actionable and positive it can be to reduce waste where there is room for protection and extend shelf life gives a product.”
Many consumers, who are hit hardest by rising living costs, find themselves only able to buy smaller quantities of groceries, Cahill points out.
“Today is a reminder of the precarious global situation of food security. It’s important to remember that single actions at home can also have a big impact. If the world reversed the current trend of food loss and food waste, we could protect enough resources to feed three times the number of undernourished people on the planet today,” added Bert de Vegt, Kerry’s global vice president of food protection and reservations. added.
What else can be done to eliminate 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 already has many landfill facilities ahead of schedule.”
“We accomplish this by capturing the nutritional value of multiple streams within our manufacturing facilities and helping our customers do the same. Where we have the opportunity, we use our technologies to prioritize converting these resources into more food for people,” says Cahill.
Specifically, Kerry helps reduce waste by turning it into animal feed, recovering energy from its operations in a variety of ways, and optimizing its processes to improve yield.
Preservation in the spotlight
Kerry’s food protection and preservation technologies include those that use fermentation, traditional organic acid-based preservatives – such as propionates and acetates – and flavor-driven ingredients.
“Our portfolio includes conventional preservatives from our Niacet acquisition, such as propionates and acetates, as well as our clean-label product portfolio of vinegar- and fermentate-based products, botanical extracts and functional/flavor-driven multifunctional systems,” explains Cahill.
She notes that 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 each year.
Food chain transparency
Consumer concerns about the safety of their food have increased as more headlines reveal recalls, contamination and supply chain challenges.
Cahill warns that there is less trust in the food chain and more scrutiny of the health and safety of food choices. “Sixty percent of consumers are more concerned about their food safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The categories that are most scrutinized at home are meat and plant-based meats [dining out] menu, it’s salads and fresh juices that raise the greatest concern in consumers’ minds,” she comments.
“Transparency of supply chains and education/communication of food safety controls is welcomed by consumers who want to make informed choices for themselves and their families. Where consumers lack confidence in food safety, there is additional waste.”
Food security hangs in the balance
There is an urgent need to accelerate action to reduce food loss and waste. The United Nations estimates that a third of all food is wasted and calls for a global focus on reducing food loss and waste, rather than producing more food to maximize what is already being produced.
Efforts by consumers and producers to reduce food waste can have a significant impact on a more sustainable food ecosystem, which is critical to solving the global food safety challenge.
The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for halving global food waste per capita at retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains.
An estimated 3.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to a healthy diet and around 828 million people go hungry.
With eight years left to reach the target, the urgency of stepping up action to reduce food loss and waste cannot be overstated, the UN stresses.
By Elizabeth Green
To contact our editorial team, please email us at [email protected]
If you found this article valuable, you may wish to receive our newsletters.
Sign up now to get the latest news straight to your inbox.