Food loss and waste is a recognised global issue which is also affecting South Africa. An estimated 12.6 million tonnes of food is wasted per year in South Africa (a third of the food available), yet about 60% of South African households are food insecure (30% at risk of and 31% experiencing hunger), and more than 13 million children live in poverty. Food loss and 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 wastage were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitting country in the world. This is unsustainable.
South Africa’s food loss and waste voluntary agreement intends to respond to this urgent challenge through a public, collaborative declaration of intent to reduce food loss and 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) 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
 De Lange & Nahman. 2015. Costs of food waste in South Africa: Incorporating inedible food waste
 South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2013
 Statistics South Africa General Household Survey, 2016
 Statistics South Africa, 2015
 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 loss and 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 by Operation Phakisa Chemicals & Waste Economy.
The benefits of becoming a signatory
By working collaboratively with other businesses and stakeholders within South Africa’s food sector, signatories can benefit from collective learning on how to tackle food loss and waste, informed by best practice and linked to South Africa’s commitments under SDG 12.3. To find out how your business will benefit, download the signatory benefits below: