A recent study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concludes that one-third of food in developing countries is destroyed before it ever reaches the consumer. This milestone study is the first time a top-level global organization has conclusively analyzed the great extent of food waste and its cause.
The study says the main cause is inadequate packaging technology and logistics, and adds that improvements in these areas would be more cost effective than trying to increase food production.
In the food waste debate, European opinion makers appear to have slightly shifted their position on packaging. For decades, packaging has been portrayed as the ultimate symbol of industrial society’s excess consumption. Protests by a majority of packaging professionals, who work on a daily basis to reduce food waste, extend shelf life, and reduce the consumption of materials, have been dismissed as the packaging industry’s desperate attempt to defend the inexcusable.
A new tone has now entered the debate. Suddenly, modern packaging techniques are being depicted as one of the best ways to reduce food shortages in the developing world. Packaging—at least, food packaging—could now move from being the villain to being the hero. Perhaps paradoxically, this shift was not achieved by any arguments from the packaging industry, but because the industry can offer constructive solutions to an urgent problem for mankind.