FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Massive food waste and losses implicated in global climate change

Every year, more than one-third of global food production for human consumption is lost or wasted and never finds its way onto plates. This is equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes of edible food.

Yet, significant numbers of people have problems obtaining adequate food for an active, healthy life, and growing numbers in all countries suffer with different forms of malnutrition.

These and other data were presented at today’s World Food Day press conference, convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), the Hungarian Foodbank Association, and the Ministry of Agriculture of Hungary.

The press conference followed the annual convoy of food trucks through central Budapest, bringing public attention to continued food insecurity in Europe and Central Asia and practical solutions to the problem.

This year’s food truck convoy – organized by the Hungarian Foodbank Association with FAO and other partners (see list below) – carried some 30 tonnes of food with an approximate value of 20 million Hungarian forint or about 100 000 Euro. The goods were donated by food companies operating in Hungary, and destined for distribution from the Hungarian Foodbank Association’s warehouse on Lokator Street in Budapest.

“Food that is grown but then lost or wasted is responsible for about 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia. “The volume of water used to produce lost or wasted food is equivalent to three times the volume of Lake Geneva, or close to 50 times the volume of Lake Balaton. Can we afford this level of waste? This damage to the environment? Of course not.”

Rakhmanin noted that on Monday 17 October, FAO would release a definitive global study on climate change, its impact on food production, and how agriculture must change to reduce its contribution to greenhouse gas levels.

“We are happy to invite more and more food companies to the Food Bank Convoy year by year,” said Balazs Cseh, president of Hungarian Food Bank. “The companies participating in the event are regular food donators of Hungarian Food Bank. Through this programme, we aim to draw attention to the problem of food waste and malnutrition and encourage more and more companies in the food industry to donate their food surplus instead of wasting it. With this year’s donation of approximately 30 tonnes, we can help more than 12 000 people in need during the winter months.”

“In order to ensure food-security for the growing population on our planet, we need to re-think food access and also distribution not only in Hungary but also in Europe and globally”, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Katalin Tóth said. “Global food security in long term can only be achieved by global cooperation along the whole food supply chain, and in this effort reducing food loss and waste should play an important role. In Hungary this process is supported among others by the planned reform of the related domestic legislation and by education for conscious consumption.”

In 1981, it was Hungary that proposed the establishment of 16 October as World Food Day. It has grown to become one of the most widely observed of all international days, marked with events of all kinds in more than 100 countries on all continents.

While the three partner organizations are very different, their representatives emphasized values that they share sustainable use of natural resources, combating food waste and losses, and caring for the poor and food-insecure – in Hungary and beyond.

Companies participating in this year’s World Food Day food truck convoy are: Auchan Magyaország Kft., Bio-Fungi Kft., Bonafarm Csoport, Budapesti Nagybani Piac, Danone Kft., Famíliatészta Kft., Gyermelyi Zrt., METRO Nagykereskedelem, Nestlé Hungária Kft., Nutricia Early Lufe Nutrition, Soós Tésztaipari Kft., Stühmer Kft., TESCO Globál Áruházak Zrt., Unilever Magyarország Kft., Univer Zrt., Wiesbauer-Dunahús Kft.

14 October 2016, Budapest, Hungary