Food loss and waste reduction at wholesale and retail stage
Food loss and waste occur along the whole supply chain. The reasons vary widely and can be sector-specific. Therefore, every actor has a contribution to make, focusing on where it can have most influence. During the previous webinars we explored the ways to reduce food losses during harvest and post-harvest operations and during food processing and packaging stages. However, large amounts of food waste are also generated in the wholesale and retail. The causes of food waste at this stage include seasonal fluctuations in the supply of fresh food, changes in consumer demand, inappropriate sizes or packaging, visual defects or damage to a food item or the packaging, esthetical considerations for fresh produce or lack of consumer understanding concerning the date markings to name a few. By collaborating with food business operators from other stages, wholesale and retail actors can influence upstream and downstream handling of food and thus contribute to reducing food waste. During the third webinar, representatives of wholesale and retail sector, as well as leading tech companies will share practices and innovative solutions to reducing food waste.
Food safety in the context of sustainable food systems
The evolving context of food production, trade, and consumption is challenging the way food safety risks are managed and the availability of safe and nutritious food for all. Urgent action at all stages of the food chains with a systems approach is necessary to protect people’s health, the environment, economies and cultures. Food safety is an integral part of sustainable food systems and it is an issue that requires action and collaboration between various sectors, groups of stakeholders and countries. To understand and reduce food safety risks, preventive measures, and appropriate response mechanisms need to be in place. This requires a thorough investigation of the connections between the health of people, animals, and plants to prevent food chain risks and foster public and private sector actions. On the occasion of the World Food Safety Day 7 June 2021, the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and WHO Regional Office for Europe are inviting all interested actors in the region to discuss food safety in the context of sustainable food systems and actions needed to address food safety issues in the human-animal-environment interface to assure “safe food now for a healthy tomorrow”.
COVID-19 response and digitalization in Europe and Central Asia
The webinar on COVID-19 response and digitalization aims to present a number of technologies out of the wide digital agriculture range, their interconnectivity and potential benefits, as well as challenges to practical implementation during the pandemic. This webinar will help identify the regional trends in agriculture during the pandemic, share the experience of various partners advancing on the digital rural transformation path and building resilience when faced with a crisis. Digitalization is embedded in FAO’s programme of work in Europe and Central Asia, which is reflected in all three Regional Initiatives. The webinar will show how digitalization can be a game changer for these three initiatives.
Food loss and waste reduction during processing
Processing and packaging can play a role in preserving foods, but losses can be caused by inadequate facilities or processing capacity for seasonal production gluts, technical malfunctions (wrong size or damaged packaging) or human error, lack of proper process management, excessive trimming to attain a certain aesthetic, and in addition to all these: insufficient economic incentive to prevent these losses (the solution is more expensive than the losses). These lead to discarded food material during processing, and rejection of the final product due to non-compliance with specifications and standards and hence result in financial losses. Therefore, food loss and waste prevention are one of the key priorities for food and drink manufacturers. Indeed, many companies integrate it in the quality management plan of their corporate objectives and overall sustainability strategy. The main areas of opportunity to prevent and reduce food waste in this sector are improving processing practices, finding innovative packaging solutions, and promoting circularity by using by-products and left-over product material for human food.
Policy and governance issues to transform food systems in Europe and Central Asia
The United Nations Food Systems Summit (September 2021) is an opportunity to rethink our food systems and launch new actions to transform the way we produce, transform and consume food. This echoes across the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region, giving an impulse to organize a regional dialogue on “Policy and governance issues to transform food systems in Europe and Central Asia”, on 25 May 2021 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CEST. The Regional dialogue is convened to discuss key policy and governance issues related to sustainable food systems, with a focus on the need for strong governance and holistic approaches to build equitable food systems for improved livelihoods and nutritional status of the most vulnerable, and to afford nature-positive production and climate-resilient food systems. The dialogue will facilitate sharing of information and experiences on opportunities, challenges, and appropriate policy actions for sustainable transformation of the food systems in Europe and Central Asia, in the context of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Regional Dialogue is organized by the UN Issue-based Coalition (IBC) on Sustainable Food Systems for Europe and Central Asia. Established in April 2020, the main objective of the IBC on Sustainable Food Systems is to support countries to make food systems more sustainable to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Members of the IBC-SFS are: FAO, WFP, WHO, UNICEF, UNECE, WMO, UNDP, IFAD.
Launch of the 2020 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Europe and Central Asia
Five years after the world committed to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, neither the world as a whole nor the Europe and Central Asia region is on track to achieve the objective to ensure access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all people all year long and eradicate all forms of malnutrition by 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) renewed and revitalized the commitment to ending hunger and malnutrition and reducing premature mortality caused by non-communicable diseases. The 2020 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Europe and Central Asia is the sixth regional report monitoring trends and progress made towards reaching SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) food security and nutrition targets in the region. The special theme of this 2020 edition is the affordability of sustainable healthy diets and their usefulness in ending hunger and malnutrition in the region. The sustainability prospects of healthy diets are recognized and analysed throughout this report, but the main focus of this report is a quantitative analysis of the cost and affordability of healthy diets at national and subnational levels. The 2020 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Europe and Central Asia was jointly prepared by the six members of the Issue-based Coalition on Sustainable Food Systems for Europe and Central Asia: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia; the World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Bureau Cairo for Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe; the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia; the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe; and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Office for Europe.
Harvest and post-harvest practices to reduce food loss and waste
Food losses occurring between harvest and retail sale, also known as post-harvest losses, is a key challenge undermining food security and income generation in many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Post-harvest losses have significant nutritional, environmental, and financial impacts for both farmers and consumers. Thus, by preventing losses at the early stages in food supply chains, we can increase the availability of food without requiring additional resources or placing additional burden on the environment. Thus, harvest and post-harvest loss reduction is of high importance in an effort to combat hunger, raise income and improve food security and livelihoods for vulnerable people. Given the strategic dimension of this topic, farmers and producers shall be aware of and apply appropriate harvest and post-harvest management practices to prevent deterioration in quality, loss and waste, and increase in prices for consumers as a result. The FAO’s Impact Webinar will highlight some concepts and problems of harvest and post-harvest food loss and waste and present solutions and cases of effective intervention to reduce these losses.
Impacts of COVID-19 on fisheries and aquaculture in Europe and Central Asia
Fish and fish products are the most highly traded food commodity internationally. Therefore, the impact of COVID-19 on the fish supply chain and operations has been profound. Demand has also been affected negatively by interruptions to the supply chain. Countries in Europe and Central Asia have experienced varying degrees of impacts from the COVID-19, based upon the various responses at the country and local levels. However, the industry impact of the pandemic has not been adequately registered in these countries. The webinar creates an opportunity for governments, civil society, and private sector to share experiences in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 and Food Safety Control and Management
While there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, the public health measures implemented to limit the person to person spread of coronavirus have had an impact on food supply chains, trade and consumer purchasing patterns. Food producers, food processors, consumers and food safety competent authorities have made the necessary adjustments, some of which are relevant to food safety control and management. Beyond the safety of food, the COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness and concern around the potential hazards that can affect humans, animals and the environment, leading to a renewed focus on the One Health approach, and the need for collaboration between the public health, agriculture, veterinary, and environment sectors. To this end, the joint FAO-WHO webinar will share information and experiences on how food safety management, control, and attitudes have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The multi-stakeholder panel of experts will highlight opportunities and challenges from different perspectives. They will facilitate the sharing of lessons learned and cooperation in Europe and Central Asia, and inform about the work of FAO and WHO in the region.
Seed systems during COVID-19: challenges and opportunities for Europe and Central Asia
The main objective of the webinar is to exchange information and experiences on the COVID-19 related impacts and risks of seed systems and the potential measures to mitigate them. Food production depends on the availability, accessibility, and quality of seeds. Although the COVID-19 crisis’ effects on seed systems have not appeared immediately, they could be long-lasting, therefore timely measures are crucial to prevent further deterioration of food insecurity.
Food waste prevention and reduction in the times of crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the fragility and weaknesses of our agrifood systems. It laid bare the disruptions of food production (harvest) and distribution with special focus on the prevention of food loss and waste.
Mitigating severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response measures will require collaborative and innovative approaches.
Agrifood trade policies in Europe and Central Asia during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
This joint WTO-FAO webinar provides a platform for sharing information and opinions on trade policies that aim to address the impacts of COVID-19 in the agriculture of Europe and Central Asia. To support an informed multilateral dialogue on trade policies, it takes stock on and analyzes the different measures that have been implemented. A series of measures were adopted in the region and elsewhere in response to COVID-19, many of which have been short-lived and have been lifted. In this context, some of the countries and/or economic communities in the region opted for domestic support measures by providing subsidies and hoarding stocks. The virtual event will discuss the significance of trade in Europe and Central Asia, and the impact that different types of domestic support measures may have on it, particularly as the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic raise questions about the significance of trade vis-à-vis self-sufficiency strategies.
FAO Regional High-level Dialogue for Europe and Central Asia - Multi-Partner Response to COVID-19 in the food and agriculture sector
The high-level panel brings together FAO’s current and prospective partners operating across Central Asia, South Caucasus, Eastern Europe, and the Western Balkans, interested in jointly delivering region-tailored programmatic solutions to the evolving socio-economic and environmental consequences of the global health crisis in the food and agriculture sector. The discussion follows the global dialogue launched by FAO Director-General on 14 July to present FAO’s Comprehensive Response and Recovery Programme to COVID-19 and will draw on FAO’s Regional Response Plan developed in an evidence-based, consultative process, comprising six priorities for the immediate and medium-term actions.
The impact of COVID-19 on seasonal and circular migration
The border restrictions and lockdown measures, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, have affected seasonal and circular migration, as well as food security. Seasonal migration is the process when people migrate for employment, based on seasonality, and for only part of the year, following the agricultural seasonal calendar. Circular migration happens when an individual moves repeatedly between countries or areas, be it temporary or long-term. As the pandemic’s consequences slowed down the harvest in some parts of the world, many seasonal workers remained without livelihoods, and there were constraints on transporting food to markets.
4th North and Central Asian Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Implementation of the Sustainable Development
The Subregional SDG Forum will provide an opportunity to discuss the current situation of implementation of the SDGs in North and Central Asian countries and possible actions and solutions for the acceleration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the context of coping with the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and to “build back better”. The Subregional SDG Forum’s outcomes and recommendations will feed into regional and global processes, in particular the annual Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) and the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).
Agricultural research in the post-COVID-19 era: Can more be produced with less?
Agricultural research is central to unlock the potential of agricultural innovation and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It is essential for increasing productivity and promoting sustainable agricultural growth, and alleviating poverty. FAO is organizing a webinar focusing on Europe and Central Asia on “Agricultural research in Europe and Central Asia in the post-COVID-19 era: Can be produced more with less?”. The event will discuss information and experiences with governments and research institutes on the relevance of agricultural research and innovation in adopting and promoting new and innovative technologies for increased food production with less resources.
Impact of COVID-19 and social protection: What measures work?
Vulnerable groups have been hit hard by the current pandemic and its economic consequences, affecting people’s health, food security and nutrition, income, and employment status. As a result, countries in Europe and Central Asia have strengthened social protection programmes. The upcoming FAO webinar, the fourth in a series of regional COVID-19 webinars, will focus on practical solutions that aim to mitigate COVID-19 impacts and associated challenges, and provide opportunities through social protection measures. The discussion will examine proven ways and tools, as well as analyze strengths, weaknesses and requirements of the adopted measures relevant to rural populations.
Keeping smallholders and family farms viable through the COVID-19 pandemic
Food systems in Europe and Central Asia are under pressure by COVID-19. Food outlets and people’s mobility have been temporarily suspended, trade has been disrupted, unemployment is on the rise. Their impacts are yet to be quantified, notably in relation to smallholder agriculture that plays a pivotal role in the region. The webinar focuses on the numerous needs and constraints of smallholders and family farms in the region, highlighting the specific challenges that are further evolving due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ITU-FAO Webinar on Fostering Digital Agriculture in Europe and Central Asia
This webinar provides an opportunity to present results of the new study on the Status of Digital Agriculture in eighteen countries of Europe and Central Asia conducted jointly by FAO and ITU. At the webinar, some countries can highlight their national good practices and present the work jointly done with ITU and FAO. The event also aims at engaging new partners from the public and private sector at digital agriculture activities across the region.
Extension and advisory services on the frontline of COVID-19 response for resilient and sustainable food systems in Europe and Central Asia
Across the globe, the pandemic has generated extreme vulnerability in the agricultural sector, confronting governments with the multiple challenges of protecting human lives, and livelihoods, as well as, and ensuring sufficient food supplies and basic services for the most needy.
Lifting lockdowns – what next for food systems?
As countries ease lockdown measures, a new set of challenges emerges for food production, processing, and logistics of supply chains. Some of these can provide opportunity for growth, given that policy-makers and value chain actors play their part. To mitigate COVID-19 impacts and to open new opportunities, countries need practical solutions on a range of issues including food supply, food and nutrition security, trade and markets.