- FMI — The Food Industry Association underscored the importance of addressing food loss and waste in written comments on the Draft National Strategy for Reducing Food Loss and Waste and Recycling Organics and provided recommendations to the agencies working on the strategy, according to a Monday announcement.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration drafted the National Strategy in an effort to reduce food loss and waste, increase recycling of organic materials, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save households and businesses money and build cleaner communities, according to the EPA website.
- FMI noted in its comments that the National Strategy can play a key role in enhancing the efforts of well-established programs — including initiatives grocers have set in place to tackle food waste.
The efforts outlined in the National Strategy would create a “unique opportunity for engagement” for FMI and its members to work in tandem with the EPA, USDA and FDA to address food waste in the supply chian, Andrew Harig, FMI’s vice president of tax, trade, sustainability and policy development said in the comments.
“FMI stands ready to work with the agencies to address food waste in the supply chain and to operationalize the portions of the national strategy that correlate with our business operations,” Harig stated.
In its comments, FMI commended the agencies for incentivizing food donation, including consumer education campaigns on consumer-level food waste and improving food waste measurement metrics.
Food retailers and food manufacturers are consistently the largest donors to the Feeding America food bank network, and FMI encourages the EPA, USDA and FDA to grow the infrastructure needed to manage surges in food donation demands, the trade group wrote. To do this, FMI suggested expanding refrigeration and storage facilities in communities as well as collaborating with the industry to establish better transportation logistics and leverage existing relationships between farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and retailers.
While grocers' and food retailers' efforts are crucial in addressing food waste, consumer waste also needs to be a key area of focus, FMI said, noting the National Strategy’s focus on consumer efforts.
For example, by “addressing consumer confusion around product date labeling and educating consumers about the differences between ‘Best if used by’ and ‘Use by’ labels, the food industry and shoppers can continue to reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills,” Harig wrote.
In bolstering the National Strategy’s call for consumer education campaigns, FMI suggests customizing resources through local-level collaboration to improve long-term results as well as tap FMI’s ongoing research that breaks down age cohorts, income levels and region to personalize those efforts. FMI also noted the agencies should partner with local food retailers, manufacturers and food service establishments to help develop messaging and outreach strategies around food waste.
While FMI said that a lack of consistent, quality data is “one of the most significant challenges” to food waste prevention and showed support for the National Strategy’s plan to adopt updated technology for better tracking, the trade group said its members are is also wary that these efforts could be out of reach for small and mid-sized businesses.
“We encourage the agencies to approach enhancing the measurement process with a focus on creating incentive-based opportunities and capacity building for the entire supply chain,” Harig wrote.