Food loss and waste is a recognised global issue which is also affecting South Africa. An estimated 10.3 million tonnes of food and beverages is wasted per year in South Africa (about a third of the food available), yet 9.34 million people in South African suffer from acute food insecurity and almost 20% of South African households have inadequate access to food. Food and beverage waste also has a significant impact on the environment due to methane gas produced when food spoils, and in addition, resources such as water, labour and energy are wasted and biodiversity is impacted.
If food and beverage wastage were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitting country in the world. This is unsustainable.
South Africa’s food waste voluntary agreement intends to respond to this urgent challenge through a public, collaborative declaration of intent to reduce food and beverage waste and redistribute or enable markets for nutritious surplus food. The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) and the national Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) initiated the dialogues on this subject and together with the DFFE have been working with South Africa’s food supply chain (from farm to fork), to develop and implement a national voluntary agreement.
Food Loss and Waste Agreement
 Oelofse, S., Polasi, T., Haywood, L. & Musvoto, C. 2021. Increasing Reliable, Scientific Data and Information on Food Losses and Waste in South Africa. Department of Science & Innovation, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
 IPC. 2021. South Africa: Impact of Covid1-19 on Food security. Integrated Food Security Phase Classification.
 Statistics South Africa. 2019. The Extent of Food Security in South Africa.
 FAO, 2014. Food Wastage Footprint: Full-Cost Accounting, Final Report.
To this end, the Agreement’s vision is to collectively commit to:
Prevent. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Recover. Report
South Africa’s food waste voluntary agreement was formulated around the country’s capacity to reverse this loss. The agreement is informed by and aligns with international and national sustainability and waste initiatives, such as those developed by the Champions 12.3 Group and the World Resources Institute’s 10 “scaling interventions” to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDG 12.3 goal, and locally through the Operation Phakisa Chemicals & Waste Economy.
The benefits of becoming a signatory
By working collaboratively with other businesses and stakeholders within South Africa’s food and beverage sector, signatories can benefit from collective learning on how to tackle food and beverage waste, be informed by best practice, align and link to South Africa’s commitments under SDG 12.3. To find out how your business will benefit, download the signatory benefits below:
Government department supporting signatories.