One third of food production goes to waste

ZeroW will help food chain actors significantly reduce food waste

Every year, up to a third of our food production ends up as food loss and waste. Ineffective storage, transportation and harvesting or outright food waste at retail and consumer levels are just some of the explanations. The EU wants to tackle this problem and aims to cut food waste by 50 % by 2030 and approach zero waste by 2050.

The journey from farm to fork can be both long and dangerous for our food, with a high risk of perishing or being discarded along the way. Figures from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) show that as much as a third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide is either lost or wasted along the supply chain.

- All the food that is never eaten represents a huge loss of resources in the form of farmland, nutrients, water, energy, fertilizer, and plant seeds. We can't afford that. Neither in relation to the major climate challenge we face, nor the increasing number of mouths we, as a global society, must feed, says Louise Krog Johnson, who as workpack leader for the Communication and Dissemination of ZeroW (Food & Bio Cluster Denmark), will help create digital innovation and knowledge sharing to reduce food waste.

ZeroW: Zero food waste and lots of innovation

An ambitious EU-funded project aiming at significantly contributing towards the SDG goal of halving food waste at the retail and consumer levels by 2030 and reaching near-zero food waste by 2050, started on January 1st this year. 

EU has an ambitious goal and, according to Louise Krogh Johnson, it will take both determination and innovation to achieve it. 

- We can all do our part as consumers, retailers, producers, suppliers and as nations. But if we really want to make a difference, we need to work on the structures and consumer behaviour in our entire food system at a common European level and through new legislation. In other words, we need systemic innovation. 

Innovation in the real world

In the ZeroW project we will create innovation through so-called systemic innovation living labs in the real world.

This means that innovation does not take place in a decoupled academic silo, but right where food production, processing and distribution takes place and where consumers encounter the products on supermarket shelves and at homes where the most significant part of food waste occurs.

We will be focusing in 9 specific cases, covering the whole farm-to-fork chain. For example, in one case we aim to reduce food waste in a complex production line of a Spanish poultry producer (e.g. cordon bleu) through use of data and digital solutions, which can later be scaled up and extended to other food productions.

In another case it we will develop sustainable and functional packaging solutions for fresh food products that helps you determine at the supermarket when they expire through intelligent labels. Indeed, it can help reduce food waste when both supermarket and consumer have a visual tool to determine how fresh the product is.

Another example is that we aim to reduce food waste through a combined 'FLW-nutrient-GHG e-label', to provide consumers with insight in the effects of their food choices during purchase, and nudge their behaviour towards more responsible habits. 


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9 living labs in ZeroW

Reducing food loss and waste through systemic innovation

  1. Food Loss & Waste monitoring & assessment 
  2. Innovative sustainable and smart packaging for fresh food products 
  3. Wasteless greenhouse solutions for (pre)harvesting 
  4. Mobile food valorisation as a service 
  5. Ugly food early identification 
  6. Advanced data-driven production process control & optimization 
  7. Food bank networks 
  8. Retail food waste valorisation through algae production 
  9. Informing and nudging consumers 

The overall objective of the project is to:

  • Create innovative solutions to reduce food waste through systemic innovation living labs
  • Develop commercial, digital tools and instruments that contribute to the achievement of food waste reduction targets
  • Contribute to the European Commission’s ongoing legislative initiatives in the area of food waste reduction

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