SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Food Redistribution in Georgia – Enhancing discussions to increase interest and highlight opportunities

14 Jan 2020

Tbilisi, Georgia – Establishment of a food redistribution system as a means to reduce food waste has raised a lot of interest in the Caucasus region. Georgia, in particular, is seeking for innovative solutions to increase the outreach and impact of its existing food donation programs aimed to people in need.

FAO Georgia, upon the request from the Georgian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, has been providing technical assistance in determining and analyzing practical solutions to the establishment of a food redistribution program. To this end, the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, with the support of FAO Georgia, had carried out a gap analysis of the national legislation and a situational analysis to identify the related needs, solutions and main challenges. These demonstrated a strong potential for such a program development in Georgia. However, challenges remain, especially as concerns taxation, food safety, and associated infrastructure.

In order to further assess the solutions and disseminate the findings, a taskforce was formed, comprising representatives of the line ministries, National Food Agency, Parliament, French Embassy in Georgia - with which FAO is collaborating closely - and other stakeholders. The taskforce meetings provided a platform for active discussions, thereby raising interest and promoting the issue on the social agenda.   

The head of the European Food Bank Federation (FEBA) was invited to attend the second meeting of the taskforce in October 2019 to discuss the possibility of setting up a food bank in Georgia to facilitate food donation, centralize operations, and ensure food safety. Examples of efficient and simple solutions were presented, and the discussion paved the way for future collaboration with the FEBA.

Anticipating the food redistribution program implementation in 2020, FAO consults regularly with other stakeholders, including donors, development organizations, and the private sector. The latter has demonstrated a strong interest in joining the initiative, as soon as the favorable legal environment is established. The collaboration with the private sector - retailers, in particular - allowed FAO to make accurate estimates of the amount of food that could be safely recovered and redistributed, as well as to learn about the sector’s specific concerns and expectations in this regard. FAO Georgia has played a key coordinating role in this process and promoted the multi-stakeholder approach to designing the solutions that would be most suitable within the local context.

2020 is expected to bring about essential developments in the field of food redistribution in Georgia, and FAO is committed to provide its continuous support to all the stakeholders.