By: Andy Harig, Senior Director, Tax, Trade & Sustainability, Food Marketing Institute
Government buildings typically are not known for their splendor; but sometimes what goes on in their halls can be truly grand.
On Tuesday, the Washington headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a joint event with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to unveil a new strategy to address food waste. This followed an earlier proclamation from President Trump declaring April “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month.”
The new multi-agency strategy focuses on six key areas:
- Enhance Interagency Coordination
- Increase Consumer Education and Outreach Efforts
- Improve Coordination and Guidance on Food Loss and Waste Measurement
- Clarify and Communicate Information on Food Safety, Food Date Labels, and Food Donations
- Collaborate with Private Industry to Reduce Food Loss and Waste Across the Supply Chain
- Encourage Food Waste Reduction by Federal Agencies in their Respective Facilities
This new announcement – while exciting in its own right – could not have come at a more perfect moment. It coincides with a revitalization and reemergence of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA), the oldest industry-run coalition focused exclusively on reducing food waste in the supply chain. FMI founded and runs FWRA with our industry partners the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and National Restaurant Association (NRA); it has produced groundbreaking research and case studies on food waste that have been used by academics, NGOs and government agencies.
The FWRA never went away – its members have been meeting and working diligently – but its work has been overshadowed a bit by other emerging issues like plastics and packaging. In the fall of 2018, however, the FWRA’s member companies reaffirmed their commitment to addressing food waste and tasked the founding associations with developing a new workplan focused on innovation, aggressive action and measurable progress. This work is already well underway; the FWRA will meet for a status update on May 2-3 at the offices of GMA in Rosslyn, VA.
The EPA-USDA-FDA commitment to reducing food waste opens up an exciting new opportunity for a revitalized FWRA to partner with government to create real and lasting change. With new resources being brought to bear, new partnerships being formed and new voices entering the fray, the next chapter in addressing food waste is being written right now.