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Norwegian government, food industry to reduce food waste
A third of all food produced globally is destroyed or thrown away. In Norway, the average consumer throws away 42 kg of food annually that could have been eaten. Food waste in the food supply chain equals 68 kg per person per year.
"Throwing away food is a waste of resources and good produce. If we manage to reduce food waste, we will be able to save both money and the environment. This is not just the responsibility of each consumer but for the food industry as a whole," says Minister for climate and environment, Vidar Helgesen.
Halving the food waste
Many measures are already being implemented to prevent food waste. The supermarkets reduce the price of food nearing its sell-by date, smaller loaves of bread are available, and there are campaigns for "buy one, pay for one" instead of "take three, pay for one".
"In order to incentivise the reduction of food waste, the government has removed VAT on food that is donated to charity. I would like to challenge the food industry to be innovative and creative in the coming years. The food industry's actions will be the deciding factor in halve food waste by 2030," says Minister for Children and Equality, Solveig Horne.
The parties agree to support the United Nations (UN) sustainable development target to halve food waste at the retail and consumer level, and reduce food losses along production and supply chains by 2030. Food waste is both an environmental issue and a challenge for combating climate change. Estimates show that if food waste were a country, it would have the world's third largest emissions of climate change gasses.
"This agreement to reduce food waste is a new way of working where we set ambitious goals. I have great faith that this agreement will contribute to reducing food waste in Norway," says Minister for Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen.
350,000 tonnes of fully usable food are thrown away in Norway every year. Well over half of this is wasted by consumers.
"The most important actions that consumers can take are to plan food shopping and preparation better, as well as to look at, smell and taste food before it is thrown away. We can also be more aware of sell-by-date labelling," says Minister for children and equality, Solveige Horne.
Attracting international interest
The good co-operation between industry and authorities on food waste has attracted international interest. This work was presented only last week at a meeting in EU's platform for food waste in Brussels. They are now talking about the "Norwegian Model". Perhaps their experiences with this agreement format can inspire similar activity in other countries to adopt new ways of working.
"It is paramount that the whole production and supply chain from primary producers to consumers, must take responsibility to reduce food waste. I am committed to reducing food waste in Norway and would like to pursue the possibility of a Nordic co-operation under the Nordic Council of Ministers in Ålesund next week," says Minister for Agriculture and Food, Jon Georg Dale.
"Norway is the 2nd largest exporter of seafood in the World and we have a responsibility to not waste our valuable natural resources, says Minister for Fisheries," Per Sandberg.
According to this agreement, the authorities will carry out mapping of food waste from consumers whilst the authorities and food industry together will carry out measures resulting in reduced food waste by consumers. The food industry will co-ordinate mapping and reporting from their commercial activities whilst the authorities will compile national statistics.
"It is important that we have the entire food industry co-operates in this work. Mapping and data collection are necessary in order to implement effective measures," says Vidar Helgesen.
The signed agreement replaces the statement of intent that was signed on the 7th of March 2015.
"The Ministry of Health and Care Services has had positive experiences regarding industry agreements on nutrition. I am therefore glad that we can sign a similar agreement on food waste," says State Secretary Frode G. Hestnes.
The Ministers who have signed the agreement are the Minister for Climate and Environment, Vidar Helgesen, and the Minister for Children and Equality, Solveig Horne. In addition the State Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Hanne Maren Blåfjelldal, State Secretary for trade and Industry, Roy Angelvik and State Secretary for Health and Care Services, Frode Hestnes. Representatives from the breadth of the food industry also signed the agreement. These include the Grocery Sector's Environmental Forum, The Grocery Suppliers of Norway, Food and Drink Norway, the Norwegian Hospitality Association, National Federation of Service Industries, The Norwegian Agrarian Association, The Norwegian Seafood Association, Norwegian Farmers and Smallholders Union, The Norwegian Fishermen's Association, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise, Norwegian Seafood Federation and the Enterprise Federation of Norway.
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