Tackling the Food Waste Challenge – Insights From Ignacio Gavilan, The Consumer Goods Forum

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Tackling the Food Waste Challenge – Insights From Ignacio Gavilan, The Consumer Goods Forum

What other sector would operate with a third of product wasted? Everyone must step up to the plate on food waste, writes Ignacio Gavilan, Sustainability Director, The Consumer Goods Forum.

A third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted or lost. Each year, a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food never gets eaten. At the same time, 828 million people on this planet are going hungry.

Food waste is a huge challenge for the environment too. Globally, it accounts for almost as much greenhouse gas emissions as road transport. If food waste were a country, it would have the third biggest carbon footprint in the world, just behind China and the US.

It’s also a key driver of global warming. With the UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warning that the world is on brink of catastrophic warming, we must pull every lever possible to prevent irreversible damage.

’No Financial Sense’

As well as being morally and environmentally unacceptable, food waste makes no financial sense. No other industry would accept the kind of large-scale operational inefficiency that means a third of its products are wasted as a matter of course.


Addressing such wastage makes clear business sense. For every $1 companies invest to reduce food loss and waste, they save $14 in operating costs.

The pressure is rightly mounting to tackle the food waste problem. In July, the United Nations’ Food Systems Stocktaking Moment will task countries with reviewing their progress on transforming how they produce food to meet the world’s essential Sustainable Development Goals, a significant opportunity to push food waste issue up the agenda.

This moment is crucial in raising awareness and ensuring greater accountability from all those who can help to prevent food waste and ensure a more equitable, sustainable and thriving food system.

Read More: The Consumer Goods Forum Announces Location For 2023 Sustainable Retail Summit


Working Together

Considering the scale and urgency of the issue, retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and food companies must act now and work together to galvanise greater action. From driving change at farm level and in supply chains through to encouraging positive consumer decisions, industry leadership is essential.

For businesses who want to deal with food waste in a truly meaningful way, the first step is to be open about your own specific challenge. Assess how much food you currently waste, calculate your food waste baseline and publicly report on your progress against it. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Co-operation is key. The issues that create food waste are systemic. No company can fix them alone. That’s why it’s hugely important that organisations collaborate and share learnings. It’s how to accelerate best practice.

Food Waste Coalition of Action

For this reason, The Consumer Goods Forum’s Food Waste Coalition of Action brings together 20 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers to cut global food loss across the whole supply chain.


The Coalition is all about joining forces to drive change by making tangible commitments. Our members align on the most effective methods of measurement, reporting, supply chain engagement and loss prevention, especially on farms and post-harvest.

On every level, combatting food waste makes sense. It’s not just the right thing to do for people and the planet, it also the food sector’s most economically viable way forward.

The whole industry must work together to drive much faster progress, including setting food reduction targets and raising consumer awareness. To drive the pace of change required, organisations must collaborate and rapidly scale up best practice.

The time is now to really share thinking and resources to drive change and deliver a positive impact.

© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest A-Brands news. Article by Ignacio Gavilan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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