Packaging solutions to minimise food waste in Africa

The amount of food we waste is a growing issue worldwide, especially with population growth and the shrinking availability of water and arable land. There is a focus on expanding our capacity to grow more food on the same amount of land with Genetically Modified Organisms, but we also need to use the food we have more efficiently so it is not wasted.

One way to combat food waste is the use of effective packaging. What type of packaging that is needed varies where the food is wasted along the supply chain, and this depends on what market the food is grown in. In developing countries most food is lost during production and post-harvest, whilst in developed countries most food is wasted once it has reached the consumer’s house. 

Save Food Initiative – solutions for a world aware of its resources

The Save Food Initiative produced two reports a few years back, Global Food Losses and Food Waste, and Appropriate packaging solutions for developing countries. These reports give a great overview of how and when food is wasted along the value chain and offers some solutions to the problem. 

Following on from this study and the work of the Save Food initiative, there was interest from Kenya to learn more about the role packaging can play in avoiding food losses. A Food Processing & Packaging technology expo has been run in Kenya, with the third session scheduled for Nairobi on the 3 – 5 November 2015

How can we achieve a Cleanleap?

Packaging can play an important role in increasing the quality and quantity of food exports for Africa. As highlighted by Pierre Pienaar, Education Director at the Australian Institute of Packaging, there is an increase in the use of packaging due to a rising middle class. In addition there are unique packaging requirements for low cost products, such as sachets of single use toothpaste. 

So from these I felt there was a clear explanation of a number of effective packaging techniques that can help with food waste.  These techniques can be applied to the different challenges faced in developed and developing countries.  It did pose a question that requires some new thinking - what processing and packaging technology can be successful in growing the African agricultural market, but also implementing packaging itself that is more environmentally friendly.  We’ll be on the lookout for more reports helping to answer this question in the future.

Report link: Global Food Losses and Food Waste

Report link: Appropriate packaging solutions for developing countries