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As the pandemic continues into 2021, food waste and loss, its impact on climate change, and food insecurity continue to intensify. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food goes to waste around the world each year. That amounts to one-third of all food produced for human consumption annually.
Reducing food loss and waste and consumer education are key targets of Fyffes Healthy Food for Healthy Life and Stewardship for the Planet sustainability pillars. In March, the global fresh produce provider and Sumitomo Corporation Group Company announced their sustainable food loss commitments, in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goal 12. The 12.3 target of halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels commits to reducing supply chain, production and post-harvest food losses by 2030.
Fyffes aims to decrease 80% of food loss by creating alternative applications for each of their core products by 2030, beginning with repurposing surplus bananas into banana flour and powder in Belize.
“It is completely unacceptable that while there is still hunger in today’s world that there is still so much food waste.” Said Caoimhe Buckley, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Fyffes. “Lost and wasted food could feed roughly two billion people, more than double the number of undernourished in the world.”
“In addition, food waste and loss (food loss is post-harvest, and food waste occurs once the food has reached supermarkets and homes), is responsible for 7% of greenhouse gasses globally,” Buckley said.
While Fyffes operational food loss remains low, the company continues to improve its harvesting, logistical and transportation practices. They deploy donations to local communities and sell sub-optimal fruit at a lower cost to juicing and purée companies.
“We are also working with retailers to help minimize food waste at the supermarket,” said Buckley. “There is so much that can be done with banana displays, ensuring shelves are well-stocked but not overstocked, providing different hand sizes to accommodate different demands and careful handling of our delicate fruit.”
Fyffes Global Sustainability Steering Committee, established in 2018, will measure progress by gathering reports from farming, harvesting, packing, transporting, and logistical departments. Their 12.3 aligned food waste target is separated into three-year benchmarks, leading up to 2030.
“In the first year, we will have developed an alternative application for post-harvest food loss for one of our products – bananas, focusing on Belize,” said Buckley. “We will also complete a needs assessment in most of our neighboring communities to fully understand the levels of undernourishment and malnutrition.”
Throughout the project, Fyffes will build on their partnerships with food charities to donate food surplus resulting from unforeseen supply or demand difficulties.
Fyffes food loss policy is further shaped by UN Sustainable Development Goal 2, ‘Zero Hunger,’ which aims to end hunger by ensuring vulnerable populations have access to nutritious food.
To combat hunger, they partner with numerous organizations worldwide. In Ireland, Fyffes donates surplus bananas to Food Cloud, an organization that matches food with charities. Additionally, nonprofit Philabundance helps the company distribute large quantities of produce to food banks across the US, and in Latin America they work with the Foodbanking Network.
As part of their consumer and employee engagement program, Fyffes collaborated with UK-based Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) for their Food Waste Action Week campaign this year (March 1 – 7). WRAP is a leading sustainability charity that works to raise awareness about the effects of food waste on the environment and the global community.
Fyffes Wasting Food Feeds Climate Change campaign increased awareness via social media and through charities which have advocacy programs on the subject. Throughout the week, they shared healthy recipes and easy-to-use tips on reducing food waste across their social media channels using the #FoodWasteActionWeek hashtag.
“I believe people are especially receptive to tackling food waste at the moment as they have more time at home to try composting or spending a bit more time on food preparation,” said Buckley.
As an internal initiative, the company dedicated its March sustainability newsletter to illustrate the importance of reducing food waste and its relation to climate change.
For more on Fyffes Sustainability Vision & Goals:
When food goes to waste, all the water, oil, and energy it takes to harvest, store and transport is also lost. When discarded food rots it produces methane gas, which is more potent than carbon dioxide.
To learn what you can do to reduce food waste visit Fyffes.com or any of their social media channels! As part of Food Waste Action Week, Fyffes developed a series of simple-to-follow ideas including using overripe bananas in banana bread, freezing pineapple chunks for smoothies and lots of other ideas ranging from compositing to clever supermarket shopping tips.
Write your shopping list before going to the grocery store - and stick to it!
Snap a ‘shelfie’.
If you’re not a fan of shopping lists, take a picture of your fridge/cupboard shelves before you head to the shops instead. This will stop you from buying something you’ve already got at home.
The time is ripe for ‘ugly’ produce.
Purchase imperfect fruits or vegetables that often get left behind at the grocery store. Don’t let their looks fool you, they are perfectly safe to eat!
Chill the fridge out.
To keep food safe, set your refrigerator at 5°C / 40°F or under and your freezer at -18°C / 0°F.
Most fruit and veggies will stay fresher for longer in the fridge. The key exceptions are bananas (keep these on the counter), and onions and potatoes (which should be kept in a cool, dark, dry place –like a cupboard!).
It’s a date!
‘Use by’ is about safety –food should not be eaten after this date (even if it looks/smells fine). ‘Best before’ is about quality –although food won’t be at top quality after this date, it will still be safe to eat for some time.
Unidentified Frozen Objects.
Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing peeled or cut veggies and meals ahead of time. Remember to label the bag/container telling you what’s inside and when you froze it!
To help you portion your meals, check the serving size information on the nutrition facts label. There are other simple and easy ways as well -for example, a mug filled with dry rice will cook enough for four adults.
Follow the 2-hour rule.
Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 5°C / 40 °F and 60°C / 140 °F. To keep food safe to eat, never leave it out of refrigeration for more than two hours.
Get your creative juice flowing.
Create new dishes and snacks with leftovers or items you think will go bad if not eaten soon.
Over two-thirds of the food we waste is perfectly edible, so using every edible bit of your food (‘compleating’) is essential. Try leaving the skin on when you make mashed potato –this will save you time as well!
Most of your kitchen waste can be composted.
No garden? No problem!
With many different tools and gadgets available – like compost bins and tumblers – you can easily compost your own food scraps whether you live in a house or an apartment.
A recipe for success.
Most organic materials like cardboard, cotton rags and even hair can be incorporated into your compost, reducing waste even further!
Start composting today!
Check out this link to learn how to start composting at home!
Do some research!
Find out which organizations in your area accept food donations. These may be food banks, shelters, or even someone you may know.
Always check out expiration dates.
For safety reasons, do not donate food that is past or nearing its expiration date.
Don’t forget about the integrity of the packaging.
Do not donate any heavily dented cans, boxes that are crushed, or anything leaking.
Make sure you deliver the food in designated places at designated times.
Keep in mind that many institutions only collect items on certain days and times.