When I was younger, my parents made me finish all the food on my plate, because there were children starving all over the world. At the time, I wished nothing more than for a way to get the unwanted food from my plate to these starving children. Sadly, all these years later, there are still people starving all over the world, and yet, according to the Food And Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, a staggering 1.3 billions tonnes of food produced worldwide for human consumption is either lost or wasted every single year. In theory, this is enough to feed two billion people! This almost wanton waste is simply not sustainable – we have to make a bigger effort to save food.

A recent report by the FAO identified the major areas along the supply chain in which the majority of this loss occurs and highlighted the vital role that improved packaging technologies can play in prolonging the freshness and shelf life of food. This means retailers can better satisfy consumer demands, and significantly reduce food waste from field to fork.

The same report estimates that within 30 years, our global population will grow by one third, to almost 9.7 billion people. This means the demand for food is set to double, putting more pressure on retailers to source food from new markets – many of which are further away. Food will need to be transported over longer distances, increasing the need for packaging that effectively preserves food freshness for longer.

The Save Food Initiative

As a joint initiative between the FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Trade Fair organiser Messe Düsseldorf, the Save Food initiative aims to advance the problem of food waste to the forefront of public awareness. It also lends its expertise and financial support to programmes and initiatives actively involved in reducing food waste.

One of these is the Mango Project. Fruit exports are one of the most important sources of revenue in Kenya. Yet every year, around 300 000 tons of mangoes grown in that country never make it to market. Much of this wasted fruit spoils on the tree, as farmers simply don’t have the resources to harvest it on time. Another significant percentage is lost during storage, processing or transport.

The Mango Project was started by Tei Mukunya. Tei was shocked by the high mango losses, so took the expertise gained during her five years with a tobacco company and used it to start her own company to address the mango problem. Realising that drying was the best way to prevent the fruit from spoiling, she recruited some local women and together, they manually peeled, cut and dried tons and tons of mangoes. Ten years later, her backyard business has grown to employ 30 people and produces 10 tons of dried mango every month.

As a respected supplier of modified atmosphere packaging, which is proven to slow down the spoilage of fresh produce, we at Mapflex are proud to be doing our part to help save food. To find out more about how our game-changing packaging can change your business, contact us today.