SOUTH AFRICAN COMPANIES CLOSE TO SIGNING VOLUNTARY AGREEMENT TO REDUCE FOOD LOSS AND WASTE
Plans by South African food manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to commit to a landmark voluntary agreement to reduce food waste and loss have moved a step closer following a multi-stakeholder dialogue held last week to discuss how this can be achieved.
The three-day meeting was co-hosted by the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and co-funded by the European Union (SA-EU Dialogue Facility). The voluntary agreement on reducing food waste and loss is expected to be signed later this year at the annual CGCSA summit, which will be held on 6 November 201 at The Forum| The Campus, Wanderers Building, Bryanston.
The agreement will mark the beginning of initiatives to ensure that surplus food which is still safe for human consumption can be donated to needy families in South Africa where an estimated 13 million people go to bed hungry every night.
CGCSA’s Food Safety Initiative (FSI) has already partnered with the DTI to secure funding from the SA-EU Dialogue Facility to support the initiative to the value of Euro 60 000 for the project, which included a study tour in Europe to engage with other organisations in Europe which have implemented similar programmes to reduce food waste and loss and share best practices for implementation and trial in South Africa.
The funding also had a research component to evaluate the status of food waste in South Africa to understand levels of food currently wasted, in order to allow the industry and government to set informed reduction goals.
Current estimates show that about 9 million tonnes or 30% of local agricultural production in South Africa is wasted each year. “In a country where millions of people go to bed hungry on a daily basis, this is monumental waste which we can’t allow to continue,” says FSI Executive Matlou Setati.
Setati says the food waste initiative is the culmination of efforts made since 2015 when the DTI approached CGCSA to lobby its members to sign a voluntary agreement on food waste in line with the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) commitment to halving food waste by 2025.
“While we work on this agreement, we are pleased that some of our members are already working with FoodForward SA to donate surplus food to registered NGOs. However, we believe that through government guidance and alignment with Operation Phakisa’s plans, the industry will be enabled to donate surplus food which is safe for consumption to help address food insecurity as we work towards the zero hunger goals” says Setati.
“In addition to the voluntary agreement, we plan to provide a platform for sharing best practices and bringing stakeholders across the food value chain together to ensure that the goals of the agreement are met. We need a visible South African network to achieve this goal,” says Matlou.