The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) has launched the South African Food Loss and Waste Voluntary Agreement, which commits food manufacturers and retailers to reduce food waste.
Launched on Tuesday, the Food Loss and Waste Voluntary Agreement was developed by CGCSA in partnership with the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (DTIC) and the Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). It was co-funded by the European Union (EU) through the SA-EU Dialogue Facility.
Government’s partnership with CGCSA and co-operation with the SA-EU Dialogue Facility have been instrumental in the development of the Voluntary Agreement, which will assist South Africa to reduce food waste, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.
It will also showcase the value of public-private partnerships in developing innovative strategies to bolster the circular economy.
The agreement commits CGCSA food manufacturing and retail members to implement measures to minimise and reduce food waste in the country.
Speaking at a virtual launch, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy welcomed the initiative and its potential to ensure more sustainable consumption patterns in the country.
Creecy noted that water scarcity, land degradation and burgeoning food and packaging waste are some of the major environmental problems of our time.
“Organic waste is a major component in any landfill and all efforts to divert this waste through ensuring better use of food products is a significant contribution to our joint efforts to promote resource efficiency,” Creecy said.
CGCSA Food Safety Initiative Executive Matlou Setati said the current estimates show that about 10 million tonnes of local agricultural produce in South Africa is wasted each year.
“This is equivalent to an estimated R60 billion a year. In a country where an estimated 14 million people go to bed hungry every night, this is a monumental unnecessary waste, which cannot be allowed to continue,” Setati said.
CGCSA co-chairperson Gareth Ackerman said that by developing the Voluntary Agreement, CGCSA is making a bold call to South African food manufacturers, distributors and retailers to commit themselves to prevent and reduce food waste.
“Given that South Africa’s retailers sell approximately 80% of the food consumed in the country, they sit at a critical point in the value chain to influence changes to reduce some of the food waste South Africa generates each year,” Ackerman said.
Ackerman acknowledged support from CGCSA members, including Massmart, Danone, Tiger Brands, Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths and Shoprite, which have already pledged to support the initiative.
“Many more members are signing up because they believe it is the right thing to do. Let today’s launch be the start of an irreversible commitment to ensure that our members become the catalyst for action to address food waste and food insecurity in South Africa.
“Ultimately, the CGCSA is advocating for legislation to make it possible for surplus food, which is still safe for human consumption, is donated to the needy as part of national goals to avert food insecurity in South Africa,” Ackerman said.
Director of Agroprocessing at DTIC, Thembelihle Ndukwana, commended the willingness of both manufacturers and retailers companies to partner with government in ensuring that food waste is reduced with the aim to eliminate food waste in the near future.
“This is one of the efforts by South Africa to transition to a sustainable consumption and production and achieve healthy sustainable food systems,” Ndukwana said.
Minister Counsellor and Head of Co-operation at the EU delegation, Dr Bernard Rey, said that through international insights and expertise, collaborative dialogue and grassroots research, “this dialogue series has evolved into the successful launch of a multi-sectoral voluntary agreement on managing food waste in South Africa from farm to fork”.