7 March 2023
According to the World Economic Forum, the cost-of-living crisis is currently the most severe threat the world’s population is facing. I know it has been a front and centre in my recent professional discussions with countries and businesses around the world.
Perhaps the most painful impact is being felt in rising food prices triggered by the war in Ukraine combined with high commodity and fertilizer prices and other contributing factors. According to the World Bank it has left millions of people living with double and even triple digit food inflation. This is having a devastating impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
Fixing our failing food system is complex and multi-faceted and will require a complete overhaul. One way to make a speedy impact, however, is in reducing the over 1.5 billion tonnes of food (1/3 of all food intended to be eaten) which needlessly goes to waste every year.
At a time when the world is experiencing rocketing food prices, when the number of people going hungry has increased in virtually every country, and when food waste is the culprit of between 8-10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, then the benefits of reducing it are multiple and cannot be ignored.
It requires efforts at every point in the food supply chain. It requires farmers taking action in their fields. It requires businesses reducing waste in their supply chains, as we are doing in our Courtauld 2030 agreement. It requires governments to include food waste policies in their net zero commitments. But especially, it requires all of us to take action in our own homes, as that is where a great deal of wasted food occurs, just under a billion tonnes per year.
Now in its third year, we’re delighted in how it has been embraced – by citizens and supporting businesses in the UK, but increasingly around the world. This year, people in Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico and Peru will be seeing the campaign. We’re aiming to go further than last year’s success which saw 12 countries and more than 200 organisations actively supporting the campaign, and which prompted millions of citizens to take action to reduce food waste.
This year’s Food Waste Action Week is running from 6-12 March with a theme of ‘Win. Don’t Bin’. It will show how valuable food is in our lives, how it unites people and how using up everything we buy saves money, time and the planet. We need everyone to get behind it and spread the word.
We’re sure it will yet again inspire many to change behaviour. But we can, and must, do so much more. Every day of every week. The cost-of-living crisis is not an argument for inaction. On the contrary, it’s yet another compelling reason of the need to build a sustainable food system which helps to feed the hungry, save money, and save the planet.
If you’re in the business of food and drink, we’d love you to spread the word and join us in Food Waste Action Week. We’d also love to hear from you if you are interested in joining our pioneering voluntary agreements which are helping to build a more sustainable food system.