That’s 44 million tonnes of food saved from the bin.
Photo via Flickr user Kari Nousiainen
Food waste is growing problem, not just in the UK but across the world. According to a recent report by the European Commission, 88 million tonnes of food is wasted annually in Europe alone. That's a staggering amount of food chucked at every stage of the food system—from "ugly veg" discarded in the field to waste in the food production system, supermarkets, restaurants, and our homes.
But a new project wants to change all that.
Details were announced last week of a Europe-wide initiative called EIT Food, which aims to cut the Continent's food waste in half by 2030. The project, which is partly funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, also seeks to overhaul the food system to improve people's health.
EIT Food brings together 50 partners in 13 countries across Europe, including researchers from the University of Cambridge and University of Reading, as well as food and drink companies like PepsiCo and data analysts The Nielsen Company.
According to a press release published by the University of Reading, where one of the regional headquarters will be based, the programme has four main aims, which include tackling "the digitalisation of the food system" and pushing for "resource-efficient processes, making food more sustainable by eliminating waste and recycling by-products."
MUNCHIES spoke to Professor Howard Griffiths, who will lead the University of Cambridge's involvement in EIT Food, about why such a programme is needed.
He explained: "There is a crisis in terms of consumer health and nutrition (with non-communicable diseases associated with obesity), and a growing recognition of 'food poverty' in less-favoured economic areas being associated with these problems."
Griffiths added: "Furthermore, we are facing unprecedented pressures on the food supply system for the future from a growing population and changing climate, particularly in terms of imported food and need to encourage local supply systems."
The main goal of the EIT project is to undertake primary research into these target areas but food waste initiatives are already underway in countries like France and Italy. Recent changes in French law mean that companies must now donate edible food to charities.
We'll have to wait and see whether rest of Europe follows suit and the EIT project meets its 2030 deadline.