Food waste – time to speak up

Dick Searle6smallAs last weekend’s FA Cup action showed us – shining reputations matter not one jot: when you miss your opportunities, you pay the price.

Recent headlines on global food waste have been reminding me of this fact: Earlier this month the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) rightly published some uncomfortable truths about world food production and consumption. Globally, just about half of it is wasted – a shocking finding, but nothing really new. This month also saw work done by UNEP and FAO on the same subject.

The real shock for me – and the missed opportunity around both discussions –  was the deafening silence about packaging and the readily available solutions that can be found on our own doorstep. It is crystal clear that modern packaging has a massive role to play in tackling this very problem.

Getting food directly from field to fork without wastage is what we do. That is why acceptable food chain waste levels of 2-3% apply in the UK; compared to some 40-60% in developing countries. Modern packaging has a ‘no-brainer’ role to play in lessening world hunger and in alleviating global food security.

However, it is still clear that many policy makers and many opinion formers still have a problem in speaking its name. We therefore need to constantly remind our policy makers about these matters and wake them up to speak up and to speak out.

The UK is fortunate to have a vigorous change agent in the form of the Government’s Waste Resource Action Programme (WRAP) and its various initiatives, most notably the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

The Packaging Federation is proud to be associated with this initiative and contributing to it. And come March 2013, we are looking forward to rolling out some new work that will really help UK consumers play their part in tackling the waste issues head on; also saving money from their household bills.

Meantime it behoves us all to engage fully with this topic. The last thing our sector needs to do is rest on its laurels. If I had any complacency around this topic at the end of last year I am grateful to have had it dispelled in recent weeks. Missed opportunities such as these remind that the battle is still very much on. More than ever I hope that you are able to join me in it.

Many thanks

Dick Searle