The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and key partners are calling on companies and organizations worldwide to join in the “SAVE FOOD” initiative, a global effort designed to cut down on food losses and waste. Established in 2011, SAVE FOOD, the Global Initiative on Food Losses and Waste Reduction, aims to reduce the estimated 1.3 billion tons of food that is lost or wasted every year. Annual losses are valued at nearly US $1 trillion. The SAVE FOOD campaign currently has over 50 partners. FAO, together with Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, a trade fair organizer, and interpack, the trade fair for packaging and processes, are calling for new private sector partners as well as non-profit organizations involved throughout the food supply chain to join the effort, and contribute their expertise. New technologies, better practices, coordination, and investments in infrastructure – from food production to consumption - are critical to reducing food losses and waste.

“With 900 million hungry people in the world and one trillion dollars at stake, joint action in reducing losses can improve livelihoods, food security, and minimize the environmental impact,” says Gavin Wall, director of FAO’s Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division. One-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is thrown away or lost, as well as the natural resources used for its production. Global food losses and waste in industrialized countries amounts to roughly US $680 billion and US $310 billion in developing countries.

“Improving food security by cutting food losses and waste is a challenge we all share and will be a central theme discussed at the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development,” states Wall. “Even if just one-fourth of the food currently being lost or wasted globally could be saved, it is enough to feed 900 million hungry people in the world,” adds Robert van Otterdijk, team leader of SAVE FOOD.

Although food losses occur at all stages of the food supply chain, the causes and their impact around the world differ. In developing countries, food losses hit small farmers the hardest. Almost 65% of those losses happen at the production, post harvest, and processing stages. For example, an on-going project in The Gambia adopting the One-Village-One-Product approach is helping farmers to reduce their losses significantly. In industrialized countries, food waste often occurs at the retail and consumer level due to a “throw-away” mindset. Per capita waste by consumers is between 95 -115 kilograms a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South-Southeast Asia throw away 6 -11 kilograms.