Food security – a renewed challenge for packaging

Dick SearleTwenty years ago you could be forgiven for thinking that the term ‘food security’ represented some branch of the tamper evident packaging world.

Today – as Wikipedia tells us food security ‘refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it.’ It is certain that as our global population grows the food security term will gain more currency – and not in a good way, I fear.

All the more reason, therefore, for our particular industry to remember its fundamental strengths and to be allowed to step up and play a full and creative part in tackling the global food security challenge.

In the UK, our supply chain gets rightly twitchy if, at any point, product wastage figures of over 3% are showing. In some developing economies – and much larger scale than ours – wastage rates of over 40% are the current norm. The problem – and the opportunity – is large scale and if not tackled will sow destructive seeds.

Process and continuous improvement engineers tell us that in any production system the greatest waste can be found in the waste of finished product. Why? Because all the other factors and costs of production involved – the energy; skills; growing time; packaging and so forth – have also been wasted into the bargain.

This fact gives us another reason why the UK’s WRAP-led campaign against food waste is so fundamental and important – and deserves a new lease of life from the Government.

Packaging, of course, is not a product but rather a delivery system, and it has a critical role to play in helping many economies dramatically lower their unacceptable rates of food wastage.

I am certain that – with the right orchestration, imagination and creativity – the combined talents in our sector can do much more to protect the rotting crops and wasted agriculture in fields and factories worldwide.

Food security issues are here to stay, both home and abroad. They will retain a place on my desk for the foreseeable future and the Packaging Federation will play a full part in helping our industry to make a welcome contribution of value. 

Thanks again

Dick Searle