Forum debates the challenges in sustainable operations to combat food waste
Due to the complex nature of food supply, proposing actions to reduce food waste is a major challenge for researchers and professionals. This debate is examined in a special issue of the RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas with various articles which deal with food waste, its challenges and opportunities in sustainable operations.
Organized by guest editors Luciana Marques Vieira (São Paulo School of Business Administration - FGV EAESP), Marcia Dutra de Barcellos (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul - UFRGS), Gustavo Porpino de Araujo (Brazilian Agricultural Research Company - Embrapa) , Mattias Eriksson (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences - SLU, Sweden), Manoj Dora (Brunel University, United Kingdom) and Daniele Eckert Matzembacher (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul - UFRGS), the researchers point out that this Special Forum, conceived before Covid-19, can change people's lives, being important as reading and learning opportunities, as consumers, citizens and researchers.
It is estimated that about 14% of the food produced in the world is lost before reaching the point of retail, while 17% of the food available to consumers is wasted, according to recent data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN Environment, which lead efforts to eradicate hunger and fight poverty.
The editors point out that reducing and preventing food waste meets the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda, as Goal 12.3 aims to halve food loss and waste in supply chains by 2030. The 2030 Agenda is a plan of action for people, the planet and prosperity, which seeks to strengthen universal peace and has 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 measures to eradicate poverty and promote a decent life for all, within the limits of the planet.
“Reducing and preventing food waste is important as negative external impacts occur throughout the life cycle of food and have an adverse effect on society,” say the editors. They point out that there are at least three main impacts: economic, environmental and social. Economically, the resources used in production are wasted, such as land, water, labor, energy, and there is a loss of profitability.
Environmentally, this dynamic leads to unnecessary CO2 emissions and air pollution, mainly caused by food discarded in landfills or incinerated, and the arable land and machinery involved in the production and transport of food which are uselessly occupied. From a social and ethical point of view, the loss and waste of food lessens the opportunities to fight food insecurity, with reduced access to food resulting from the decrease in availability, which leads to higher prices.
Covid-19 has increased the urgency to combat food waste, especially the redistribution of food to vulnerable people affected by pandemics. According to the researchers, the effect of the pandemic on food waste will depend on how long it will last and the impact it will have on the global economy, on agri-food supply chains and on families, as well as on measures being taken by local, regional and national authorities and in the global management of the pandemic.
Forum articles are available on the website RAE journal.