Every day, about 40 tons of food is wasted in Brazil, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI) Brazil. This places the country among the top ten food-wasting countries, according to the WRI's Climate Policy Associate for Brazil, Viviane Romeiro. She was in São Paulo on Thursday (Jun. 30) discussing global food loss and waste at the Sustainable Food Summit Latin America, held by the Save Food Initiative Brazil.
“We're talking about a chain of losses that goes all the way from harvest to post harvest to shipping to retail at supermarkets,” Romeiro said. According to her, food loss has many different implications. “There are about 7 billion people [in the world] today. And about 1 billion suffer from malnutrition and food shortage. So this is primarily a food security issue.”
Other implications, she said, are the economic and environmental impact. “There are consequences for biodiversity, land use, water, climate, and carbon emissions,” she said. She noted that if global food loss were a country, it would be the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, for example, behind only China and the United States.
According to Allan Boujanic, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in Brazil, about 30% of all food produced worldwide is lost before it gets to consumers, causing losses estimated at $940 billion a year.
Save Food Brazil was created as an initiative to help reduce food losses in the country, with support from the FAO, the WRI, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA), and other organizations. “We need to use food more efficiently, with a clearer awareness that waste is a reality and has many collateral effects. Civil society, producers, and governments should be really engaged to set tangible targets to reduce food losses not only in Brazil but all over the world,” Boujanic said.
“As this initiative grows, [it will] get strong enough to act on public policy and innovation and bring about solutions to the problem of waste in Brazil,” said Alcione Silva, an executive at Save Food Brazil. According to her, the country can contribute positive experiences toward global change.
She mentioned a number of initiatives, including distribution of soup made from leftovers; technology produced by EMBRAPA; the Comida Invisível [“Invisible Food” in a literal translation, a project that reuses food that is still suitable for consumption, but has lost its commercial value, to give it to socially vulnerable people], which is planning to set up a food truck to educate children and schools to reuse kitchen leftovers; and an initiative that sells food with minor “defects”, like ugly-shaped potatoes or carrots.
“Large food losses are reported at both storage and supply chains [in Brazil] due to poor facilities. Our food warehousing and distribution centers don't have all the adequate premises. I would say this our biggest problem that leads to food waste,” the Save Food Brazil executive said.
Translated by Mayra Borges
*This article was corrected on July 4, at 4:10 pm. It errouneously stated that Brazil wastes 40 tons of food a day. It was corrected to 40 tons of food a year.