SAVE FOOD: Messe Düsseldorf and FAO define their cooperation for the coming years

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Messe Düsseldorf and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) have reached an agreement on their continued cooperation on the SAVE FOOD initiative for the coming years. Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, President and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, and Daniel Gustafson, Deputy Director-General, Operations at FAO, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect in Rome at FAO’s headquarters on 9 May 2013.

The goal of the SAVE FOOD initiative is to reduce global food loss and wastage in order to improve food security for people and to conserve resources. This is accomplished by generating awareness of the problem and pooling the expertise of public and private organisations. The latter have been able to join the initiative as sponsors since the beginning of 2012. The aim is to develop general strategies and thus create opportunities for engagement and investment. As sponsors of the SAVE FOOD initiative, numerous companies, associations and organisations are already seizing this opportunity.

In the context of the SAVE FOOD initiative, the focus of forthcoming cooperation between Messe Düsseldorf and FAO will be on studies designed to expand our understanding of food loss and of measures that can be taken to prevent it in certain markets. To this end, FAO has established an internal programme and created an interdisciplinary working group devoted to food loss. This working group is also combining knowledge from the various FAO departments and taking advantage of these synergies for the SAVE FOOD initiative.

Field studies in Kenya and India
The first study, for Kenya, is already in progress. Its purpose is to gauge the magnitude of food loss within certain food supply chains, identify suitable counter-measures and finally test them for their feasibility and cost-effectiveness. In this way a strong foundation will be created for political strategies and private investment. The latter should ultimately help to achieve a lasting reduction food loss and supply more people in the region with food.

When presented in Nairobi at the Food Processing & Packaging Exposyum from 26 to 28 November this year, the findings will form an important part of the event at which companies of the packaging and processing industry will present solutions tailored to Kenya’s needs. The Exposyum is being staged by organiser StarlingExpo in cooperation with Messe Düsseldorf. The combined conference and exhibition is the first member of interpack’s international packaging family to be held in Africa.
The second study, for India, will follow later in the year. The agreements for this have only recently been signed. To permit comparisons, the field study is modelled in essence on its Kenyan forerunner.

Metal silos for smallholders
The first concrete project of the SAVE FOOD initiative to limit food loss is also being implemented, funded with the contributions of the SAVE FOOD sponsors. Before the year is out, Kenyan smallholders will be supplied with metal silos to enable them to safely (and temporarily) store various cereals. In the region in Kenya chosen for silo use, up to 10 per cent of the crop is currently lost due to lack of adequate storage. By using the metal silos that will be built in Kenya itself with relatively simple means, it will be possible to reduce loss caused by moisture or pests. The project is being accompanied by training in correct silo use. A regional communication campaign with leaflets, posters and radio commercials is also planned to draw attention to the use of these cereal storage silos.

Successful development
With the studies and the project in Kenya, the initiative is now shifting into gear. SAVE FOOD was launched at interpack 2011 with a conference on food loss and wastage. In this connection, FAO presented studies devoted to the general quantification of the problem. According to these studies, 1.3 billion tonnes of food – a third of global production – is lost or wasted annually. An exhibition at the Trade Fair Centre highlighted the problem and visualised the study findings. After further showings in Germany, Italy and Russia, the SAVE FOOD exhibition will be moving on to the USA, Kenya and India and to the EXPO 2015 in Milan.

Thanks to the big response to the conference and the interest stimulated, SAVE FOOD was opened to companies at the beginning of 2012. As sponsors, they can finance concrete projects, contribute their expertise, and network with the other participants. Since 2013, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been supporting the SAVE FOOD initiative as a partner with its Think.Eat.Save campaign designed to reduce food wastage. It is focusing on the behaviour of consumers, food retailers and the hotel and restaurant sector. The EU has also put the subject on its agenda: EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik has announced 2014 as the “Year of Waste”. Combating food wastage is to play a prominent role.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed between Messe Düsseldorf and FAO will serve as a foundation for the global activities of SAVE FOOD in the time ahead. A SAVE FOOD conference is already planned for interpack 2014 and will target both non-profit organisations and industry. The special show INNOVATIONPARC PACKAGING specifically target food losses and waste. It will be present packaging solutions and technology that hopefully will contribute to save that one third of global food production that is presently going to waste.

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