According to the United Nations, a staggering 17% of all available food for human consumption is wasted, which equates to around 1.3 billion tonnes with a value of $1 trillion.
The impact of food waste is multi-layered. Firstly, there’s the environmental fallout - the carbon footprint of this ‘lost food’ is estimated at 3.3. billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Secondly, we need this food. With an ever-increasing population, we know that 828 million people are considered chronically under-nourished and the hunger rates across the globe continue to soar, affecting nearly 10% of the world’s population - an issue that has a knock-on impact for both health and economic development.
Th need to tackle this imbalance and reduce food waste has never been more pressing but how can be we do this?
While there’s a role for individuals to play, global companies are in a unique and powerful position to push for change. Their ability to impact the supply chain from start to finish allows for a greater level of control that can deliver impressive results.
Here are four ways big corporations can help tackle the issue of food waste:
- Reduce food waste through the supply chain
Global companies have a responsibility to build and maintain a sustainable supply chain. Firms need to be selective in who they choose to partner with. By working with suppliers who are also dedicated to reduce food waste, these big businesses can create an end-to-end process that prioritises this key sustainability challenge. Herbalife has a supplier code of conduct that requires its partners to reduce their waste; introducing stringent criteria like this will help to ensure every part of the supply chain looks at their processes and steps up to drive change. Only by working together can we tackle this global issue.
In addition, Herbalife has also committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, which aims to halve global food waste and reduce food loss along the production and supply chain processes. Making commitments like this encourages corporate accountability - often a first step to drive change.
- United teams have impact
Encouraging employees to get involved in finding solutions to reduce food waste is a great way that global companies can help to shift the dial on this issue. Empowering staff to think of initiatives and ways to make changes on the ground can be hugely impactful. At Herbalife, we introduced innovation bootcamps in our Netherlands warehouse where teams come up with sustainability solutions that could help us reduce food waste in our production processes.
- Shift to sustainable ingredients that can be repurposed
With global companies operating on such a big scale, it’s important to consider every facet of a product as it can have a huge impact globally. Shifting to plant-based ingredients not only has an impact on sustainability efforts when it comes to farming, it also enhances the ability to compost, recycle and re-use. Herbalife works with a third party that turns our surplus products into animal feed, ensuring nothing goes to waste and encourages a circular approach to production – something which has become a standard process in our business.
- NGO and charity collaborations
Another way that corporations can be a part of the food waste solution is by supporting charities whose beneficiaries need food. Food banks are a brilliant part of this process, taking food that would have been wasted and re-distributing it to those in need. Herbalife recently partnered with the European Food Banks Federation to help tackle food waste and food insecurity by providing funding to support essential operating costs at food banks across Europe.
With the great waste epidemic continuing to have a detrimental impact on both the environment and vulnerable communities globally, it’s never been more important for big business to unite in an effort to tackle this challenge.
Find out more in the latest episode of the Nutrition for Life podcast where host Carole Walker speaks with Stephane Leroux, executive director of the International Food Waste Coalition and Alexandros Theodoridis, co-founder and chief food saving warrior of Boroume.
This article was written by Anita Gerrits, Director FP&A Supply Chain - EMEA, Herbalife.