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Discussions about food waste in Berlin and Brussels

Stefanie Awe, METRO GROUP

Avoiding food waste is joint responsibility of trade, policymakers and consumers

How can we avoid food waste along the supply chain? And how can the trade industry, policymakers and consumers contribute? – These questions were at the focus of two discussions hosted by the Federal Association of German Food Traders (BVLH) at the end of June in Berlin and Brussels.

By 2030, the aim is to halve global food waste per capita and to reduce food losses along the entire production and food supply chain at retail and consumer level. This is what has been agreed by the General Assembly of the United Nations within the framework of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” in September 2015.
Trade and policymakers are currently concentrating their efforts on the question of how to achieve these targets. The Federal Association of German Food Traders therefore invited representatives from politics, academia and the trade sector to discuss possible measures in Berlin and Brussels at the end of June.

The focus of the discussion in Berlin was on measures by the trade industry to further reduce food waste. In addition to members of the Bundestag Committee on Food and Agriculture, the event was also attended by the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Dr. Maria Flachsbarth. Advance requirements planning for goods that is aligned with demand – particularly in the field of fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables or breads and baked goods – in addition to package sizes that are adapted to the needs of consumers are integral elements of these measures.
In the discussion, the trade representatives indicated that they were open to changes concerning the best-before date: From the trade industry’s point of view, it might make sense to not indicate the date of minimum durability for food with a very long shelf life, in order to avoid food being thrown out by consumers that is still safe to eat. In principle, however, the best-before date should remain in use as it is an important decision-making tool for the consumer to assess the specific properties, especially for fresh products that require refrigeration.

At the event in Brussels, the central question was how to develop a common method for recording food losses in trade companies. A particular focus in this context was on the results of the EU FUSIONS project that had made proposals to achieve this. A representative of the European Commission clarified in the context of the discussion that these proposals were used as an orientation in establishing a common EU methodology to measure food waste. However, when developing a measuring method, they would not necessarily be adopted verbatim by the Commission. From October 2016, the Commission intends to involve various actors through a multi-stakeholder platform to develop the measuring method.
Other topics for debate included the measures to reduce food waste that had been proposed by the European Commission in the framework of the Circular Economy Package as well as their feasibility. The proposed measures aim at lowering own losses in the trade sector and at improved consumer education. The trade representatives emphasised their efforts to make a contribution on both counts, but they also drew attention to the necessary feasibility and efficiency of concrete measures. You can find the key position of the Federal Association of German Food Traders (BVLH) in the leaflet ”Avoid food losses. Preserve resources.” (in German)
You can find an overview of METRO’s position and activities to prevent #foodwaste and #foodloss along the food supply chain in our leaflet.