The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced during the Food Waste Summit that they are teaming up with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA). The organizations will work together to promote food waste education, outreach programs, research initiatives and other efforts. Two experts on food waste shared their thoughts.
The New Partnership
By partnering with the FWRA, the FDA, EPA and USDA will be able to work with the founding members of the organization, which include the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Food Marketing Institute and National Restaurant Association. In a Memo of Understanding about the agreement, the organizations introduced the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative and reiterated their goals of decreasing loss and waste throughout the entire food supply chain.
According to the Memo of Understanding, “In order to reduce food loss and waste, it will take the entire supply chain including farms, processors, food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, universities, schools, landfills, federal, state, tribal and local governments, faith-based institutions, environmental organizations, and communities working together to achieve innovative solutions.”
Why the Partnership Matters
As concerns about long-term food sustainability increase, there is a growing focus on food waste. It is estimated that the global population will reach nine billion people by 2050, but 50% of all the food produced on the planet is wasted or lost before it can be consumed. From families throwing away expired produce to restaurants tossing half-eaten dinners, food waste is a global problem.
“In the U.S. alone, 20 billion pounds of ‘ugly’ and surplus produce are wasted annually simply due to strict grocery store cosmetic standards. Due to the size of the food waste problem and amount of water and methane tied to food, Project Drawdown has identified reducing food waste as the number three way to reverse climate change, even over plant-based diets and reducing car emissions,” Christine Moseley, Full Harvest founder and CEO, said.
Moseley hopes that there is continued aggressive innovation across the supply chain to reduce food waste. She thinks it will take large, urgent concerted efforts by both businesses and consumers to change the way they are doing things in order to make the kind of massive shift that is required. In addition, utilizing technology is an important way to solve food waste at the farm level in a large, scalable way.
Regulatory changes will also have to be made to incentivize businesses to change ingrained practices faster. Europe is already ahead of the U.S. in making food waste illegal in certain parts of the supply chain. However, changes can create tension in the food industry, and the chance for companies to emerge with new solutions to reduce food waste while offering fresh options.
“People want local and fresh food, but cost, safety and convenience are always king. There are changes we can make today without fundamentally changing how we grow food. What takes longer, but is ultimately what consumers are looking for, is food that is healthy because it was grown right. Food that tastes great and lasts in the fridge because it is fresh, so there is less waste,” Jason Green, the CEO and co-founder of Seed & Roe (formerly Edenworks), said.