Food security

Food “waste” can feed millions

Today is the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. The aim is to highlight the fact that while millions of people go hungry, more than 30% of the world’s food production is wasted.

It’s part of a global drive to halve food waste by 2030, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). 

The FAO estimates that 3.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to a healthy diet and some 828 million people go hungry. Yet 14% of the world’s food is lost between harvest and retail, and a further 17% in retail and at consumption level.

In South Africa the drive to limit food waste is being led by FoodForward SA under the slogan “Repurpose the surplus”. FoodForward collects and stores edible surplus food from the supply chain – farmers, manufacturers and retailers – and redistributes it to the needy.

It estimates that it has so far provided 48 million meals from food that would otherwise have gone to waste.

“Surplus food is quality food and is not substandard,” FoodForward’s MD Andy du Plessis, told the Sunday Times. “Grocery products that may not be good enough to sell, but are good enough to eat, are good enough to donate.”

Du Plessis said South Africa needed a food donations policy to facilitate the distribution of surplus food to the hungry. A proposal will soon be on its way to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

FoodForward SA, together with the Global Food Banking Network, the Consumer Goods Council of SA and the Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, has drafted recommendations for a food donations policy for the country. It outlines three key areas: “These include food safety for donations, liability protection for food donors and tax incentives and government grants. Each of these works together to ensure no-one has to experience the pain of food insecurity,” Du Plessis said.