Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING REMARKS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Save Food Partners Meeting

Bangkok, Thailand 20 March 2014

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you here today to the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Thank you all very much for taking time off your very busy schedules to come here today to discuss the issue of awareness raising and advocacy for reducing food loss and food waste in Thailand. Facility.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Significant quantities of food procured by households are often wasted due to over-buying, poor storage, failure to consume in a timely manner, or lack of a proper understanding of use-by and sell-by dates on food labels. Between 15 and 20 percent of cooked food at the dining table, is never consumed, thrown away and wasted in Europe, North America and in Industrialized Asian countries. And with increased dining away from home in urban centres such as Bangkok, the quantity of food wasted is increasing. Indeed, we seem to see a growing disrespect for food, despite its fundamental value that influences our life and basic human needs.

Considerable quantities of perishable foods go to waste between the farm and the market, owing largely to poor harvesting and handling practices, inadequate storage facilities, inappropriate and inadequate packaging and transportation systems, the lack of technology and the lack of a market orientation in food supply chains. Not only do these food losses increase the cost of food for consumers and reduce incomes for producers, but they threaten food security as a whole.

Moreover, in order to feed growing future populations, FAO estimates that the world needs to increase food production by 60 percent by the year 2050, or by 77 percent in developing countries alone where the majority of population increase would occur. This challenge has to be met under a number of existing constraints such as stagnation of productivity growth of major staple food crops such as wheat and rice, decline of arable lands, increasing scarcity of water resources, negative impacts of climate change and natural disasters, and competition between food crops and bio-energy crops for the use of land and water resources.

This effectively means that not only is it important that countries strive to meet the food needs of their current populations, but they must continue to produce and supply sufficient food to meet the needs of future populations.

Environmental challenges are also fuelling concern for the food security of current and future generations and warrant a greater focus on resource efficiency in the region. Food losses and waste represent a loss or waste of labor, fertilizer, seeds, transport, storage, packaging and all other resources and energy used to produce food.

Food losses and waste also rank as the third highest emitter of green- house gasses globally. According to FAO data, cereals, meat and vegetables are major contributors to the carbon footprint of food losses and waste. Losses and waste in meat also generate a substantial impact on the environment in terms of land occupation.

In the context of the Asian region, FAO data shows that losses and waste in cereals emerge as a significant problem for the environment with major impacts on carbon, blue water (which is the consumption of ground water and surface water) and arable land.

It, therefore, follows that reducing food losses and waste will not only avoid pressure on the natural resource base, but will help in reducing environmental impacts while making more food available to consumers.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

FAO-RAP in 2013 launched the Save Food Asia-Pacific Campaign, under the Global Save Food Initiative and has since promoted the Campaign through the development of a number of promotional materials – a logo, mascot, facebook page, a public service announcement, web-site, brochures, a photography competition, posters, an educational booklet for school children, the development of video animations targeted to school children, - targeted to broadly communicate the message of reducing food losses. To date, Campaign activities in Thailand have been implemented in Bangkok. Efforts are now underway to promote the Campaign in schools and universities across Thailand, and this is not an easy task.

The main purpose of our meeting here today, is to discuss what we can do together as partners to promote awareness and advocacy for food loss and food waste and how we can go about working as partners to scale up and scale out the Save Food Campaign across Thailand, through the formation of a Save Food Network in Thailand.

I look forward to our discussions.

Thank you.