FAO and World Union of Wholesale Markets team up to combat food loss and waste

Partnership will contribute to making supply chains for healthy fresh produce efficient and equitable

22 October 2019, Rome - FAO and the World Union of Wholesale Markets (WUWM) have agreed to renew and strengthen their partnership with an eye to globally reducing food loss and waste and assure supplies of healthy and fresh food in an increasingly urbanized world.

The WUWM is a non-profit association representing more than 160 wholesale markets from every continent that seeks to ensure that wholesale and retail markets - especially for fresh produce - are recognized for their important role in local, national and international food distribution chains, food safety and the support of small businesses.

The new three-year pact which was signed on 17 October 2019, establishes a framework for supporting FAO's initiatives and programmes for food loss and waste reduction as well  improving food markets and distribution systems.

 "We are both committed to working together to find innovative and efficient ways to overcome the enormous challenge that we will have to face in the agri-food sector if we want to be able to feed in a sustainable way human populations in the forthcoming decades," said Stéphane Layan, Vice-Chairman of WUWM. "Wholesale markets are key actors for healthy and nutritious diets" and for "enabling small and local farmers to have a suitable platform to sell their production all year long."

"Wholesale markets are critical for producers and consumers. For producers, they allow producers to aggregate what they produce and increase their access to markets and assure standards and food safety. For consumers, they provide access to diversified diets at affordable prices. Moreover, wholesale markets are the last phase in the chain of activities where food losses could occur so they are central in reducing them said Máximo Torero Cullen, FAO Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Development Department. "So we need to find ways to work together."

Working together

Planned areas of collaboration between FAO and WUWM include knowledge sharing, advocacy and capacity development to reduce food loss and waste in food markets and in distribution systems.

The cooperation will contribute to FAO's development of a Code of Conduct regarding Food Loss and Waste - a subject central to this year's State of Food and Agriculture report. Food is lost after harvesting and before reaching the retail level, including through on-farm activities, storage and transportation while food waste occurs at the retail and consumption level and is linked to limited shelf life and consumer behaviour.

Reducing food losses along production and supply chains - as called for by Sustainable Development Goal 12.3.1 - offers a critical opportunity to increase the efficiency and sustainability of food systems to better deliver on nutrition and food security. The renewed partnership is strategic given that WUWM's members are typically central in delivering healthy foods to urban areas.

Photo: @FAO/Giulio Napolitano
FAO and WUWM officers after signing partnership agreement.