London — Key emerging opportunities will be in the conversion of food waste to products such as plastics, fruit juices, food ingredients, and liquid fuels, finds Frost & Sullivan
The concept of food waste management (FMW) has gained traction with the declaration of food waste reduction as a target in the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Countries across the globe are showing greater interest in reducing as well as managing food wastage. The present gap between the amount of food waste generated globally and the number of storage and recycling facilities in operation translates to significant opportunities for the development of effective FWM technologies.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Emerging Trends and Opportunities in Food Waste Management, finds that policies favouring food waste reduction in Europe and North America and the setting of global targets greatly aid the development of FWM technologies. The most popular methods for FWM at present are composting and anaerobic digestion. However, they do not help salvage unspoilt food from the food waste. These processes can also be energy intensive, substantially reducing the overall environmental benefits of FWM.
“Currently, there is a demand for technologies that can convert food unfit for human consumption to animal feed,” said TechVision Research Analyst Lekshmy Ravi. “Technology developers are simultaneously working on repackaging or repurposing food waste to food for human consumption using less energy-intensive solutions and employing novel management models.”
There are considerable research and industry initiatives for the conversion of food waste to products such as plastics, fruit juices and food ingredients. Additionally, innovative FWM companies are trying to convert food waste to valuable products such as liquid fuels.
While technology developers are looking to eliminate inefficiencies in FWM, it is also necessary to form strategic partnerships along the various links of the food supply chain. These synergies can help improve the efficiency of FWM and facilitate the exchange of technologies and techniques.
“Eventually, companies are likely to adopt models that enable the efficient and cost-effective extraction of valuable products from food waste,” noted Ravi. “Overall, key emerging opportunities are expected to be in the extraction of edible ingredients from food waste, conversion of misshapen fruits to saleable products, and conversion of byproducts from food production.”
Emerging Trends and Opportunities in Food Waste Management, part of the TechVision subscription, offers a detailed account of FWM’s global trends. It discusses various solutions for FWM and studies the various pathways that could be adopted, as well as innovative technology and management solutions. Our expert analysts have identified emerging business models for FWM and employed Porter’s Five Forces to analyse the various FWM pathways.
Frost & Sullivan’s global TechVision practice is focused on innovation, disruption and convergence and provides a variety of technology based alerts, newsletters and research services as well as growth consulting services. Its premier offering, the TechVision program, identifies and evaluates the most valuable emerging and disruptive technologies enabling products with near-term potential. A unique feature of the TechVision program is an annual selection of 50 technologies that can generate convergence scenarios, possibly disrupt the innovation landscape, and drive transformational growth.
Four years ago, 27-year-old Tsering Dorji of western Bhutan’s Satsam village took to organic vegetable farming. Since then, thanks to composted manure and organic pesticide, the soil health of his farm has improved, and the yield has increased manifold.
Dorji, once a subsistence farmer, now has about 60 bags of surplus food every two months to sell and earn a profit. But come the rainy season and he still loses thousands of rupees carrying his produce to markets that are miles away.
“Vegetables like radish, carrot and cucumber often break and tomatoes get squashed when I transport them. So I have to either sell them for [the deeply discounted price of ] 5-10 rupees a kg or just throw them away. This is very a hard time for me,” Dorji told IPS.
The young farmer is not alone. The world over, but especially in developing countries, farmers lose millions of dollars due to food loss. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the total bill for food loss and food waste is a whooping 940 billion dollars a year.
The scenario could, however, change significantly in coming years courtesy of a new global mechanism called the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard. Launched at the 4th Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) a two-day conference held in Copenhagen from June 6-7, this is a protocol to map the extent and the reasons for food loss and food waste across the world.
The conference, which brought together governments, investors, corporations, NGOs and research organisations, termed it a great ‘breakthrough” – one that could lead to effective control and prevention of global food loss and food waste.
“The new Food Loss and Waste Standard will reduce economic losses for the consumer and the food industry, alleviate the pressure on natural resources and contribute to realising the ambitious goals set out in the SDGs, “said Christian Jensen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark, launching the protocol.
The Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW) has been developed jointly by the Consumer Goods Forum, the FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Specific guidelines for how the standard will instruct countries and companies to measure their food waste are still being drafted, but the protocol includes three components.
The first is that the standard includes modular definitions of food waste that change based on what an entity’s end goal is – so if a country is interested in curbing food waste to fight food insecurity, its definition of food waste will be different than a country looking to curb food waste to fight climate change.
Secondly, the standard includes diverse quantification options, which will allow a country or company with fewer financial or technical resources to obtain a general picture of their food loss and waste.
And finally, the standard is meant to be flexible enough to evolve over time, as understanding of food waste, quantification methods, and available data improves.
Sustainable Development Goal 12.3
Food loss and waste has significant economic, social, and environmental consequences. According to the FAO, a third of the food produced in the world is lost while transporting it from where it is produced to where it is eaten, even as 800 million people remain malnourished.
In short, food loss increases hunger. The lost and wasted food also consumes about one quarter of all water used by agriculture and, in terms of land use, uses cropland area the size of China, besides generating about 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) addresses this he global food challenge by seeking to halve per capita food waste and reduce food losses by 2030.
The FLW Protocol can help steer the movement forward, say UN officials. According to Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the protocol could not only help understand just how much food is “not making it to our mouths, but will help set a baseline for action”.
The protocol has also triggered the interest of business leaders like the world’s largest food company, Nestle. “What gets measured can be managed. At Nestle, we will definitely benefit significantly by using the standard to help us address our own food loss and waste,” said Michiel Kernkamp, Nestle Nordic Market chief.
Benefiting the poorest growers
But can the FLW protocol benefit the smallest and the poorest of the food producers in the developing countries who lack modern technology, innovation, and regular finance and are surrounded by multiple climate vulnerabilities such as flood, drought, salinity and other natural disasters?
“Yes,” says Khalid Bomba, CEO of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency.
The protocol, by identifying the pockets of food loss, can highlight the areas that need urgent intervention, he says.
“For ordinary proof producers, food loss happens for a number of reasons such as lack of innovative tools, improved seeds, market opportunity and climate change. The new protocol can be a tool to find out how much losses are happening due to each of these reasons. Once this data is collected, it can be shared with the NGOs and the business communities. Accordingly, they can decide how and where they want to intervene and what solutions they want to apply.”
Bomba, however, cautions that the protocol should not be mistaken for a solution. “This protocol in itself cannot end food loss. It is just a tool to understand the problem better and find the appropriate solution.”
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates about one-third of the food produced globally goes to waste, creating a massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions and needlessly squandering water, land, labor and energy resources. This waste is drawing the attention of global agriculture organizations and financial institutions, which have started to back initiatives aimed at scaling back food waste.
But a group of farmers in Uganda have already come up with a solution: transforming food into novel products with a longer shelf life. FSRN’s Ngala Killian Chimtom reports.
Elizabeth Nsimadala is a 36-year-old mother of two from a small village in Southern Uganda. She’s a founding member of a group of female farmers who have been making big returns by turning bananas into wine, a relatively novel product now adding diversity to Uganda’s cuisine. But it was not always so.
Before the year 2000, Nsimadala struggled to make ends meet in agriculture, frequently going hungry and repeatedly unable to pay school fees for her kids. Then an NGO came along, teaching farmers in her area about better ways of producing and managing banana yields. And while the methods did increase output, Nsimadala says it had unintended consequences.
“The project, which was supposed to be a blessing to the communities, became a problem because there was overproduction, but the prices decreased. So, instead of getting money from bananas, a bunch went as low as 500 Uganda Shillings, this is something like a quarter of a dollar,” Nsimadala explains. “So it went so low, to that level, and people were instead chopping the bananas and giving them to animals. So they became of no use.”
Her story is common across Africa, where harvested food crops are often lost because the cost of transporting them to markets is more expensive than letting them rot in place. Meanwhile, people who need food the most don’t have money to buy it.
Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of Private Enterprise Federation, Ghana, says this aggravates food insecurity on the continent.
“[There’s] $4 billion (USD) equivalent of food losses in a year in the continent and if you can conceptualize what four billion can do to alleviate poverty in our various countries, then you can understand the waste and the economic deprivation that food loss is causing the continent,” Osei-Bonsu points out. “Apart from food losses, there is food waste, they are two different things. The food waste is the cooked food that we don’t use. At the end of the day, they are not apportioned to people who need it, and we have about 800 million in the world going hungry every day and we have excesses of food that are going to waste.”
The causes of food loss and food waste in Africa are closely linked to lack of infrastructure, affordable transportation, and even harvesting techniques, says Nana Osei Bonsu: “Let me give you an example: tomatoes. People harvest them when they are red. When they are red and you pick them, they don’t even last 36 hours! But if you pick them green, they give you seven days or more. So, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this magnitude of losses.”
The inefficiency of moving food stocks to hungry mouths can be an even bigger problem in 50 years, when Africa’s population is expected to double.
“If the world’s population doubles, what should we double then?” asks Moussa Seck, chairman of the Pan African Agribusiness and Agro Industry Consortium. “It’s not cars. It’s not highways. It’s mostly food. But the problem is, mankind has made ten thousand years in order to count today seven billion tons of food. Ten thousand years of constant progress. And when the world population doubles in 50 years, we have to double these seven billion tons.”
African countries, through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, say they are committed to eliminating hunger and cutting extreme poverty in half by 2025. How this will be achieved, according to Seck, is not only through production, but more importantly, by avoiding the loss and waste of food already produced.
Elizabeth Nsimadala and other farming women in Uganda could offer significant lessons in this regard. The bananas that used to be thrown away are now fetching them significant returns on their investment, thanks to value addition. In other words, processing the crop into another, more novel product with a longer shelf life.
“We were trained in banana wine production. We started on a small scale, but for any new innovation that comes, it takes some time for people to embrace it. But later on, our mindset kept on changing,” Nsimadala says. “When I do a comparison between the prices, it’s actually more than a hundred percent. A bunch that can go for $10, once processed, you can be able to make a net profit of $200 (USD), which is unbelievable to many. To me it’s a reality because I am doing it. We are doing it and we are getting the results.”
Nsimadala’s success has been hailed as a best practice by the African Union, but continues to be an exception to the rule. In the short term however, Bonsu recommends that African governments set up agencies to buy and store food in peak season, for eventual redistribution during lean periods.
Some food waste, be it measured in mass or as lost energy, is inevitable: potato peels, woody broccoli stalks, steak bones and beef gristle, egg shells, tea leaves. Other waste is avoidable but excusable, part of the quotidian inefficiency of human lives: a few last slices of stale bread, the remainder of some milk or yoghurt that is past its best-before date, a piece of fatty meat or exotic fruit rejected by a child.
But most food waste is both unnecessary and avoidable, and, over the past decade, a series of studies have given us a better appreciation of the problem’s scale as well of its considerable environmental and economic impact.
That is a welcome change. In 1999, when I was doing research at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, my most memorable impression of the institution was that hundreds of its rooms in Mussolini’s former Ministry of the Colonies were filled with thousands of people preoccupied with how to increase food output, while the study of food waste was delegated to a single man in a one-room office.
That study found that roughly a third of the food produced globally for human consumption — 1.3bn tonnes a year — is lost or wasted. Predictably, the highest wastage occurred in the EU and North America at about 100kg per person per year. Losses in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia were far lower, at 6kg-11kg.
In 2009, the UK’s first food waste assessment was produced by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Using data from 2007, it found that UK households wasted a third of all their food, with nearly 90 per cent of that waste going to landfill. It concluded that about 60 per cent of that waste was avoidable.
But an update in 2013 registered an encouraging shift: UK household food waste was found to have fallen by 15 per cent between 2007 and 2012, down from 8.3m to 7m tonnes.
A separate US study in 2012 put total food waste along the entire food chain at 40 per cent of the country’s food supply. Another inquiry found that, between 1974 and 2005, US food waste had risen by 50 per cent, with subsequent further increases.
Losses at the production level are particularly high. About 20 per cent of some vegetables, most fruits and many kinds of seafood, are wasted at this early stage. Post-harvest losses have been greatly reduced in rich economies with proper produce handling, chilling, refrigeration, protective packaging and anti-spoilage additives. But such losses remain high in the tropics.
In rich countries, losses at household level account for the largest share of food waste, not only for fruits, vegetables and seafood but also for grains due to wasted bread.
Why do rich countries waste so much food? The two most obvious reasons are that first they produce more than they need and then sell that produce so cheaply.
But another, less well-appreciated, factor is the decline of home cooking. About half of all meals in the US are now eaten outside the home, a major source of plate waste — particularly given the gargantuan restaurant portions in the US. People in rich countries tend also to be overzealous observers of best-before dates — even though you can eat that yoghurt a day after its “expiry” with impunity.
Food availability in the EU and in the US averages at about 3,500 kilocalories (kcal) a day per capita but the average food intake per person of the west’s increasingly sedentary and ageing populations is no more than 2,100 kcal. This creates a 1,400 kcal (40 per cent) waste gap.
And food is too cheap: it costs the average American family just 11 per cent of its disposable income. In the EU consumers spend 14.5 per cent of household expenditure on food, but that too is far less than in the past and than in most low-income countries.
Among affluent countries, Japan is the only notable exception in terms of wasting less food. That is due to a combination of its high dependence on food imports — at 60 per cent — and a more frugal and ageing population. Average daily food availability is now only about 2,400 kcal/capita, significantly lower than the Chinese mean, and food waste amounts to only about 20 per cent of the total supply.
The global waste of a third of our food means that 30 per cent of farmland is ploughed, planted, fertilised, irrigated and harvested without any real benefit. To make matters worse, these processes generate significant emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. If the world’s food waste were its own country, it would be the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases following China and the US, require 250 cubic kilometres of water per year — more than Danube’s annual discharge. Such demands also leach nitrates into groundwater and streams creating coastal dead zones, accelerating soil erosion, reducing biodiversity and promoting the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Better food literacy would help in the campaign to curb waste. So would more home cooking and less eating out, but, in the long run, there is only one effective measure, especially given the fact that food consumption is fairly price-elastic, which could substantially reduce waste in affluent countries: that is paying more for the food we buy.
Ending all food subsidies and enforcing food-related environmental safeguards would accomplish that goal — but western governments remain unwilling to pursue that course and altruistic consumers eager to buy more expensive food are few and far between.
Massive food waste by humanity is an undisputed fact documented daily in tons of discarded scrapings from dinner plates around the world. It is now being measured as a serious threat to the global environment and economy, with an estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world left uneaten at a cost of up to $400 billion a year in waste disposal and other government costs.
The food discarded by consumers and retailers in just the most developed nations would be more than enough to sustain all the world’s 870 million hungry people if effective distribution methods were available.
Unfortunately, most of the uneaten food goes to landfills where it decomposes and produces the dangerous greenhouse gas methane at a volume that amounts to an estimated 7 percent of the total emissions contributing to the global warming threat. This puts food waste by ordinary humans in third place in methane emissions behind the busy economies of China and the United States, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. These stark facts have been laid out in a new report from the Waste and Resources Action Program, or WRAP, a British antiwaste organization. The organization warns that the problem is getting worse because the global middle class is, fortunately enough, expanding. According to the report, by 2030, consumer food waste will cost an estimated $600 billion a year — a 50 percent increase from current costs — unless there is a wide effort to change the trend.
Numerous antiwaste programs are underway, from backyard composting to restaurant donations to food pantries, from London’s campaign to cut food waste by 50 percent in five years to fish-drying innovations in West Africa that prevent spoilage. Reducing food waste by 20 percent to 50 percent could save an estimated $120 billion to $300 billion a year, according to the WRAP report.
This would take far more action by national and local governments, food producers and, most of all, consumers unaware of the mounting costs of their dinner scraps.
Source: NY Times
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When Albert Ndereki first worked at Chobe Game Lodge in 1971, beers were a mere US$ 0.04 cents each and guests were expected to wear formal attire at dinner in the evening. Guests flew directly into Chobe National Park with Botswana Airways (now Air Botswana), landing at Serondela Airstrip by the Chobe River and continued to the lodge on a well-graded road.
Today, he invites us on one of the first Ecotours now offered by Chobe Game Lodge.
From being born in the village of Satau in Northern Botswana to watching Richard Burton serenade Elizabeth Taylor in their private suite after their second wedding, Albert can tell you the stories of how he’s watched Botswana evolve from simple beginnings into the premier destination for safari goers around the world.
Albert talks about how challenging it was to establish Chobe Game Lodge, the first 5-star lodge of its kind in Botswana. “Things were very different then, many of the chefs, waiters, managers and other such people came from places like Zimbabwe, South Africa and overseas because there were no trained Batswana to employ” explains Albert.
“You know for the food waste at the lodge we used to dispose of it in a hole at the back of the lodge which we buried. During the Chobe River sunset cruises we used to tie reeds to fish so the guests could see the fish eagles fly down in front of them and take the floating fish.”
Albert noticed how the African Fish Eagle spent its days watching the boat waiting for its meal and quickly understood that the lodge had a responsibility to the environment and dreamed of changing how things were done.
The lodge now actively works towards benefitting the environment and boosting the local Chobe community. Albert now oversees the ecotourism initiatives at Chobe Game Lodge, inviting guests to explore the lodge on an ecotour and discover what goes on behind the scenes.
During the ecotour, Albert spends time talking about the community, what he calls the most important asset at Chobe Game Lodge, and how the lodge has invested in empowering Batswana from the region. More than 170 local youngsters have been trained and qualified through the Youth Trainee Development Programme initiated by the lodge in 2006. 18 of the graduates took up positions within Chobe Game Lodge while the others went on to further their career in the tourism industry.
“Our company medic ‘Doc B’ visits regularly to give us check-ups and provide any medicine we may need or even counselling and advice. Every year when the company makes a profit our director calls us together to talk about the year and how we all worked as a team to make it successful. We also receive dividends through the company share scheme. So really for us working at Chobe Game Lodge, it is like being part of a big family community rather than just an employee” says Albert.
On the tour, Albert then introduces us to the ecotourism projects taking place at the lodge. Food waste is now processed in a large biogas plant which produces methane for cooking gas in the staff kitchens. Waste water is treated above ground with new technology that ensures all the grey water is safely recycled into irrigation. In fact, through processes involved in the reduction of rubbish, reusing of materials and recycling initiatives in place, less than 5% of the lodge’s waste ends up in the Kasane refuse facility.
Albert shows guests the first silent CO2 emission free electric game-drive vehicles and safari boats operating in Botswana. Travellers can now move silently through the Chobe National Park observing wildlife in their natural environment, undisturbed by the rumble of a diesel motor. A far cry from guests waiting on a boat for the Fish Eagle to be fed!
But it doesn’t stop there. There are so many fascinating initiatives in place that help keep the lodge environment pristine and natural. It’s incredible to see what can be achieved with a committed approach to responsible tourism and the ecotour is certainly a refreshing look into the future of safari lodges in Africa.
Albert tells us, “If I think back to when I was first offered the job at Chobe Game Lodge in 1971 to what we have now, I am extremely proud and happy to be a part of this place – so much care and attention goes into every part and I really enjoy sharing this with our guests.”
What a privileged to have such a passionate individual like Albert on a team.
Source: Travel News
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