Established in 2011, SAVE FOOD, the Global Initiative on Food Losses and Waste Reduction, aims to reduce the estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is lost or wasted every year. Annual losses are valued at nearly one trillion US dollars.
The Save Food campaign currently has over 50 partners. FAO, together with Messe Dsseldorf GmbH, a trade fair organiser, and Interpack, a trade fair for packaging and processes, are calling for new private sector partners as well as non-profit organisations involved throughout the food supply chain to join the effort and contribute their expertise.
New technologies, better practices, coordination, and investments in infrastructure from food production to consumption are critical to reducing food losses and waste.
"With 900 million hungry people in the world and one trillion dollars at stake, joint action in reducing losses and waste can improve livelihoods, food security, and minimise the environmental impact," said Gavin Wall, Director of FAO's Rural Infrastructure and Agro-Industries Division.
One-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is thrown away or lost, as well as the natural resources used for its production. Food losses and waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialised countries and $310 billion in developing countries.
"Improving food security by cutting food losses and waste is a challenge we all share and will be a central theme discussed at the UN Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development," Mr Wall said.
"Even if just one-fourth of the food currently being lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 900 million hungry people in the world," said Robert van Otterdijk, Team Leader of SAVE FOOD.
Although food losses occur at all stages of the food supply chain, the causes and their impact around the world differ.
In developing countries, food losses hit small farmers the hardest. Almost 65 per cent of those losses happen at the production, post harvest, and processing stages. For example, an on-going project in The Gambia adopting the One-Village-One-Product approach is helping farmers to reduce their losses significantly.
In industrialised countries, food waste often occurs at the retail and consumer levels due to a "throw-away" mindset. Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kilograms (kg) a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa and South-Southeast Asia throw away 6-11 kg.