Reduce food loss and waste
Reducing food loss and waste
Why it matters
Approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food is lost or wasted annually (FAO). Half of this is nutrient-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables (WWF (pdf, 1Mb)). Food losses are measured not only by nutritional value losses but also by environmental impact. It has been estimated that, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from food loss and waste could reach 5.7–7.9 Gt CO2e annually (WWF (pdf, 1Mb)). Food loss and waste occurs throughout the value chain, from farm production, handling and storage issues, to packing and distribution at the factory and, finally, during consumption by the consumer.
What we are doing
In 2019, we worked with suppliers to identify five key commodities in our supply chain where food losses and waste are most significant. We also continued to roll out internal initiatives to reduce our operational waste. Read more about it in our 2019 progress report.
Demonstrating our commitment
Working with smallholders to reduce food losses
One major challenge to cutting food waste and loss at the supplier level is that many farmers have different understanding of losses, and some are unaware of the true volume of their losses in terms of environmental and nutritional impact. We are working to improve smallholders’ livelihoods by helping them to reduce their food waste and losses. More efficient food-handling processes mean more of the product reaches market, translating into a larger income for suppliers.
In October 2019, we undertook a project in Nigeria to measure maize losses among our suppliers, including several smallholders. Following a series of farmer questionnaires and field assessments to collect data, estimates for total losses during the harvesting and processing phases were developed. On-farm losses were estimated to be around 13% of harvest (approximately 300 kg of maize per hectare). During activities conducted at aggregator level, it was estimated that a further 4% of yield was lost. Following the assessment, recommendations for reducing losses were made, including scaling up the availability of low-cost post-harvest loss reduction technologies such as maize shellers.
Building on work to reduce losses in our dairy chain, we worked with the World Resource Institute to calculate our milk losses from farm gate to factory in 30 key countries. To aid this assessment, we used a Food Loss and Waste Value Calculator. The calculator assesses the impact of food losses across a range of environmental and nutritional factors. In 2019, milk losses were measured at 0.15% of production, and ranged between 0% and 4.25%.
To understand the losses of palm oil for smallholders in our supply chains in Indonesia and West Africa, we worked with our partner Earthworm, which specializes in supply chain sustainability. The study found that losses occur at three stages. On plantations, suboptimal pruning and harvesting techniques are responsible for waste. Losses at intermediary collection centers are the result of poor handling practices and transport infrastructure, while in processing mills, quality standards are the main driver. During the assessment, farmers provided recommendations to inform the creation of a roadmap to reduce loss and waste in our palm oil supply chain.
Sin Desperdicio in Latin America and the Caribbean
In Latin America and the Caribbean, over 127 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted every year. At the same time, nearly 42 million people in these regions experience acute under-nutrition. In an effort to improve the situation, Nestlé, along with several other multinational companies, has signed up to #SinDesperdicio, a platform coordinated by the Inter-American Development Bank.
The platform was created to address the issue of food loss through the promotion of four key actions: creating innovative projects; developing policies at the national and local levels; creating a knowledge database through studies and market analyses; and encouraging responsible consumer habits. In 2019, we launched an innovation contest, #SinDesperdicioHortícola, inviting solutions to food and waste in Argentina’s horticulture sector. Pilot projects have also been launched in Colombia, Argentina and Mexico to minimize losses and waste.
We are a part of #SinDesperdicio because we recognize that no one can solve the problem of food waste alone. We have to work together to turn the tide for people and the planet.Laurent Freixe, CEO, Zone Americas