In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include Target 12.3’s call for halving food waste and reducing food losses worldwide by 2030.
This second annual progress report assesses advances by governments and companies over the past 12 months relative to a three-step approach for reducing food loss and waste: target, measure, and act.
Targets set ambition, and ambition motivates action. A first step to reducing food loss and waste is for governments and companies to set specific reduction targets aligned with SDG Target 12.3. The Global Agri-business Alliance’s Food and Agricultural Product Loss Resolution, under which members will reduce their rate of food loss by 50 percent by 2030, is a landmark highlight from the past 12 months.
What gets measured gets managed. Quantifying food loss and waste can help decision makers better understand and respond to how much, where, and why food is being lost or wasted. One highlight from the past year is that a number of companies in the food sector—including Ahold Delhaize, ConAgra Brands, Danone, Kellogg Company, Nestlé, Pick n Pay, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco—are not just measuring but also publicly reporting their food loss and waste inventories, thereby pioneering best practices for the private sector.
What ultimately matters is action. Reducing food loss and waste is everyone’s responsibility. In the past year, food manufacturers and retailers scaled up their ambitions and efforts to cut consumer food waste by standardizing food date labels, including The Consumer Goods Forum’s Call to Action to standardize date labeling worldwide by 2020, complemented by enhanced consumer education of meaning of date labels.
A Road Map to Achieving SDG Target 12.3
This progress is promising. But is the world on track to achieve Target 12.3 by 2030? To answer this question, the 2017 Progress Report introduces a road map showing a pathway for achieving the target by 2030.
The report’s authors have assessed progress to date against the 2016–2018 milestones, with “green” indicating developments are on track to achieve this first milestone, “yellow” indicating some progress has been made but below the pace needed to achieve this milestone in time, and “red” indicating progress is not on track to meet this milestone in the next year.
Setting Targets to Reduce Food Loss and Waste
Governments. Countries or regional blocs that have set specific food loss and waste reduction targets aligned with Target 12.3 cover an estimated 28 percent of the world’s population—well on the way to getting 40 percent of the world’s population under a specific reduction target.
Companies. 60 percent of the world’s 50 largest food companies (by revenue) participate in programs that have a food loss and waste reduction target.
Measure and Reporting Food Loss and Waste
Governments. A few countries with targets currently measure and report on food loss and waste within their borders. But these countries comprise just 7 percent of the world’s population.
Companies. Several of the world’s largest food companies are currently measuring and a growing number are publicly reporting on food loss and waste within their operations, but more must also do so.
Acting to Reducing Food Loss and Waste
Governments. There has been a burgeoning of initiatives in the European Union, United States, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries on public-private partnerships, new policies, and consumer campaigns. But these efforts do not approach covering 20 percent of the world’s population.
Companies. More than 10 percent of the world’s 50 largest food companies now have active food loss and waste reduction programs (the 2018 milestone). Among those taking action, half are engaged with their suppliers to reduce the latter’s food loss and waste.