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When you were a kid and your mom told you to “eat all the food on your plate because poor children around the world are starving,” did you ever wonder how many dinners are tossed or how your food could actually get to people who need it? If you did, you’re not the only one. A diverse group of food industry experts recently developed the first international food loss and waste (FLW) standard to help measure, track and reduce discarded food along the global supply chain.
The FLW standard report states that roughly one-third of all food produced is thrown away, which amounts to an estimated $940 billion each year. These unused calories slurp up about a quarter of the total agricultural water footprint, spew out roughly eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and (like your mother told you) could be used to feed the 795 million people who go hungry each year.
“What gets measured gets managed,” says the report, which proposes a voluntary standard protocol to quantify what ingredients are thrown away, when in the supply chain they are deserted, and where they end up. The accounting system also addresses why foods didn’t make it into consumers’ bellies and encourages entities to set goals, undergo first-party or third-party assurance and track progress over time.
Although the standard is applicable to a large array of entities, such as governments, grocery stores and restaurants, it’s aimed at setting the table for similar operations to compare how and what foods aren’t eaten. These comparisons will hopefully lead to reduction targets, regulations and a tangible cut in edible garbage, the report states.
At its core, the standard aims to increase food security by maximizing the amount of available calories globally, decrease food costs to producers, consumers and everyone in between, and minimize the environmental impact of our food system.