Australia calls international expert to help fight food waste

Wednesday, 07 August, 2019

Australia calls international expert to help fight food waste

The Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), Woolworths and Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) have partnered to seek help from sustainable food systems expert Mark Barthel. The collaboration hopes that Barthel’s expertise will help Australia address its $20 billion/year food waste problem.

UK-based Barthel brings a 25-year track record of fighting food waste with brands such as Tesco, Amazon, Walmart, Marks & Spencer and Nestlé, and international organisations such as WRAP, the World Economic Forum, United Nations and the FAO.

“It is an exciting time to be working with Woolworths, CRC and FIAL to develop a food waste reduction roadmap,” Barthel said.

“Although only 3% of national food waste is attributed to supermarkets, they still have a critical role to play in engaging with their customers about how they can make the most of the food they buy.

“Woolworths is at the forefront of educating customers around minimising food waste via their Food Savers program and they have also made commitments themselves with 100% of their stores now with a food waste diversion program in place.

“I am excited to be working closely with Woolworths to develop a roadmap that will see them engaging with suppliers, customers and community partners to work together to tackle this issue.”

According to the Australian National Food Waste Baseline report, Australia wastes 7.3 million tonnes of food each year, with nearly half of this waste ending up in landfill.

“Preventing food waste entering landfill in Australia would be the equivalent of taking over 1 million cars off the road in terms of its environmental impact,” Barthel explained.

“There is a huge role for businesses to play in reducing food waste along the supply chain, and in addition to working on a roadmap for Woolworths, I’m also going to be working with FIAL to establish a voluntary agreement program with Australian businesses as part of the National Food Waste Strategy.”

FIAL Managing Director Mirjana Prica said, “We are thrilled to have Mark join the FIAL team to work on the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy. His experience in setting up the UK’s Cortauld Agreement and understanding of sustainable food systems will provide invaluable insights that will help shape Australia’s efforts to reduce food waste.”

Woolworths Head of Sustainability Adrian Cullen said, “We’re excited to have Mark on board to support our commitment to reducing food waste and helping our partners do the same. We look forward to working closely with him so we can continue to improve on our food waste reduction journey to bring real benefit for our customers, farmers, suppliers and community partners.”

Fight Food Waste CRC CEO Dr Steven Lapidge said, “Food is meant to be eaten and I haven’t met anyone yet who does not feel guilty about wasting food. So, this is a solvable global challenge, one that all of us here at the Fight Food Waste CRC, Woolworths and FIAL are committed to tackling.”

Image caption: The CRC and Woolworths team. Image credit: ©Woolworths Group

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