Russia has long since been a growth market. And the demands and living standards of its population have long since become comparable with those in Western Europe and North America. There are no exact figures – but the quantity of avoidable food waste in Russia must now have reached levels similar to those in the EU.
Food Losses in Russia and Europe
For this reason a study presented in May 2011 at the SAVE FOOD Congress in Düsseldorf commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO examined Russia in a sub-study along with European countries. The result: over 40 million tons of cereal products are wasted in Europe and Russia alone, some 20 million tons of this due to consumers.
The approach of the SAVE FOOD initiative launched by Messe Düsseldorf and the FAO is clear: in view of the drastic rise in global population and nearly 900 million starving people worldwide, the global community can no longer afford food losses of this kind. This means: less avoidable food waste in developed countries as well as less food losses in poorer countries as a result of lacking harvesting technologies, insufficient storage and logistics or inadequate processing.
Russia: to Use its Space Potential
However, there is another option to improve the global food situation. Many experts agree: in addition to strategies to combat food losses, global food production must be increased to be able to feed the predicted nine to ten billion people on our planet in 2050.
Commenting on this at a specialist conference in Hanover in November 2012 agriculture expert Prof. Harald von Witzke from Berlin’s Humboldt University said: on the one hand there needs to be a significant increase in agricultural production – there would be great potential especially in developing and threshold countries if better technology and agricultural expenditure came into play. On the other hand, all agricultural land available worldwide must also actually be used. According to von Witzke, while in the EU only about four million additional hectares would be available, the figure in Russia and other CIS states is three times that: a total of 13 million hectares of potential land for modern agriculture.
Russia’s Agro-Food Industry invests in Technology
Von Witzke confirmed that Russia and the CIS states could make a considerable contribution to food security. For this they would need to utilise their full space potential and continually increase agricultural productivity. This is primarily achievable through technical investments – and these have been on a steady increase in Russia since the turn of the millennium. In 2011 Germany’s Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO) took a closer look at Russian agro holdings, i.e. agricultural corporations with up to 500,000 hectares of agriculturally usable land. One finding: since 1999 agro holdings have been increasingly investing in better technological equipment in their agro-food operations.
Russian Population Aware of the Issue of Food Waste
At the same time, there is growing awareness amongst the Russian population that a more sustainable and economical use of foodstuffs will be required in the future. In a 2011 study consumer goods group Unilever examined people’s attitude to food waste in restaurants/gastronomy in ten large economies of the world. One result: the majority of those Russians polled (51%) said they would be prepared to pay more in restaurants and bistros if gastronomy businesses were to deploy strategies to combat food waste and food losses. By way of comparison: in Germany only 40% of the population would be prepared to do this and in Great Britain as little as 38%. Furthermore, 55% of those Russians polled said they were in favour of the government doing more to foster sustainability in gastronomy – thus a clear statement against food waste.