A roundtable centered on addressing the challenge of food loss and waste reduction in different subsectors of the Russian economy was held at the UN House in Moscow. The event, co-organized by the FAO Liaison Office in Moscow (FAOLOR) and the Retail Companies’ Association of Russia (ACORT), gathered representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor), the Consumers, Fish and Dairy Unions, Foodbank “RUS” Charitable Foundation, METRO Cash & Carry, and other private enterprises.
“The private sector and analysts lack a common understanding on where to start when it comes to tackling the issue of food loss and waste,” said Alexey Blokhin, an ACORT representative.
Eugenia Serova, FAOLOR Director, made opening remarks on FAO’s global vision on FLW reduction issues and the Organization’s initiatives worldwide. She also presented FLW statistics provided by Rosstat at the launch of the SAVE FOOD initiative in Russia several days earlier, on 24 January.
Roundtable participants were convinced that Russia has high levels of food loss and waste which, significantly above the official data.
Participants were united in their opinion that the problem requires in-depth and cohesive examination across different industries. This would need to be achieved using a toolkit reflecting best global practices on researching FLW issues, including methodology and tools that would help spot the problem at different stages of the food supply chain.
Ksenya Orlova, from METRO Cash & Carry, emphasized that despite the company’s global efforts at tackling FLW, the company does not have a food waste reduction strategy for Russia. However, METRO is among the few retailers that make use of the food waste pyramid to reduce food disposal. As an example, the company sells food items close to their expiry dates to animal farmers at reduced prices.
The food waste pyramid was brought up several times as a useful analytical tool for evaluating the FLW problem in Russia.
Irina Shevkun, the representative of Rospotrebnadzor, proposed developing a roadmap for tackling FLW problem in the country. The effort, in her opinion, would need to involve all the major stakeholders. Shevkun added that with 2017 announced as the Year of Environment in Russia, Rospotrebnadzor intends to conduct workshops on ways to dispose of food waste, including the biofuel and animal feed disposal options.
Natalia Chernisheva, representing the Ministry of Agriculture, highlighted some of the obstacles contributing to the emergence of food losses in the supply chain:
- Collection of raw materials from smallholders and medium-sized farms requires modernization of agricultural enterprises and logistics
- The large number of verifications and examinations required increase the time of delivery of produce (the Dairy Union)
- Both producers (Fish Union) and retailers (METRO) highlighted the need for proper demand-supply regulations (B2B) and universal standards for retailers and producers.
The roundtable helped establish productive networking among the participants. In particular, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rospotrebnadzor agreed to discuss further improvement of the relevant legislation.
All participants agreed that the problem of FLW reduction is topical for all food-related industries in Russia. However, any further discussion of the matter would require that a common foundation be established for a working group of major stakeholders to proceed from.
Summing up the discussions, Serova, emphasized the need to focus on sustainable growth as opposed to purely economic growth. “Green economies are leading the world today and only corresponding approaches may help Russia achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030,” she concluded.
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