“We must respect the value of food.”

International SAVE FOOD congress launched in Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf, 17 May. Responding to an invitation by Messe Düsseldorf and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, international stakeholders from politics, business and the general public came together yesterday and today at the SAVE FOOD congress to find solutions to fight global food loss.

Food loss is “one of the most urgent problems confronting the global community,” stated Modibo Traoré, Assistant Director General, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, of the FAO, who went on to stress that access to food is a basic human right. “We must sharpen the awareness of both producers and consumers. We must put this topic on the political agenda. We must establish efficient standards. We must all learn – across supply chains – and join forces to assume responsibility.” While Traoré focused mainly on combating hunger, German Federal Food Minister Ilse Aigner raised another aspect regarding our attitude to food. “Food is produced by people to feed people. We therefore have a duty to treat it respectfully – for ecological, economic and moral reasons,” said the minister, sending out a wake-up call for people to start rethinking now. Referring to the Millennium Goals of the United Nations, Prof. Klaus Töpfer asserted that “We need similar goals for high-income countries to change the prevalent throw-away and energy-wasting mentality.” In addition to policy-makers and consumers, he considered that the packaging industry in particular had a major obligation to collaborate with other sectors in developing solutions along the food value chain.

Prior to the congress, the FAO had published new studies according to which about one third of global food production (1.3 billion tonnes per year) was lost on the way “from farm to fork” or was discarded unused by consumers. The studies by the UN organisation also confirmed that better packaging can help to protect food, especially in low-income countries.

Christian Traumann, president of the concurrent leading global trade fair interpack, accepted the challenge for his sector of making its contribution through new concepts for the manufacture and distribution of packaging machines and ideas for smart packages. “Having a package that can measure the freshness of its contents could, for example, help in future to reduce the amount of food that is thrown away even though it is still fit for consumption.” From the packaging expert’s point of view, the FAO studies point the way to a win-win situation. “Small, decentralised solutions for low-income countries and emerging markets can expand the scope of the business models for our industry and contribute locally to food security and the fight against poverty.”

On the second day of the congress Shraddha Jadhav, Mayor of the megacity Mumbai and one of the most prominent politicians in India, spoke about the challenges of ensuring supply security for today’s megacities. “Mumbai will continue to grow apace in the coming years. Making sure that its inhabitants will have enough to eat is a huge challenge, not only in terms of food production, logistics and distribution but also for city planners and administrators. In Düsseldorf we presented our concerted approaches,” she commented.

SAVE FOOD comprised of panel discussions, presentations of best practices, and exchanges with trade visitors. “My aim is that SAVE FOOD has sent out the right signals – especially here and now at the interpack – to the global packaging industry community. New, smart packages can protect food better worldwide, fight hunger, and be a source of income to many people,” said the initiator of the project, Werner M. Dornscheidt, President and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, speaking during a break from the congress proceedings. “We have great faith in our partnership with the FAO, which we intend to pursue in the long term.”

SAVE FOOD was sponsored by ALBIS PLASTIC GmbH, Bosch Packaging Technology GmbH, Cofresco Frischhalteprodukte GmbH & Co. KG, DANONE GmbH, FEFCO (European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers), Hydro Aluminium Rolled Products GmbH, IK (German Plastics Packaging Association), the “Die Dosenköche” (Can Chefs) initiative, METRO AG, Multivac Sepp Haggenmüller GmbH & Co. KG, Rexam Beverage Can Berlin GmbH and VDMA (German Engineering Federation).

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