South Africa is still sending much of its surplus food to landfills or incinerators while more and more South Africans find nutritious meals unaffordable.
“It’s time for a different approach to addressing food insecurity,” says FoodForward SA managing director Andy du Plessis. “There is a relatively untapped opportunity in terms of using quality, edible surplus food – food that is good for human consumption – but because of supply chain dynamics, liability issues, and market forces, this good food is either dumped in landfills or incinerated, causing a negative impact on the environment.”
His comment comes at a time when the world could be facing its worst level of food insecurity in recent history, according to the World Economic Forum Global Risk Report 2022.
Worldwide, more than 200 million people face hunger daily. In South Africa, as many as 15 million people are affected by hunger, and this number is expected to worsen as the cost of food continues to rise.
“Rising food prices are a clear indication that access to basic foods is worsening for those with limited or no income – commonly referred to as money-metric poverty,” says FoodForward SA in a statement. “This also means that those in need will not be able to afford nutritious foods, which has several health and economic implications.”
Basic food prices are skyrocketing
The non-profit conducted its own food price comparison review between 2021 and 2022, and it shows that basic food prices have increased by 12,9% in the past year alone.
Food categories have gone up substantially, with fresh fruit up by 62%, fresh vegetables up by 9,3%, cereals up by 23%, grains up by 12,2%, and spreads up by 34,5%.
“Countries with deep pockets have more leverage and are in a better position to negotiate preferential treatment,” says Du Plessis about different countries across the globe navigating international food security crises.
“That leaves developing and under-developed countries to fight it out for what’s left, which artificially increases the prices of these commodities because demand is greater than the supply.”
South Africa is regarded as a food-secure country on national level but food insecurity is rife at household level due to . FoodForward SA has been lobbying for manufacturers and retailers to channel unsold surplus foods to food-insecure South Africans since 2009.
In a separate development, the South African Food Loss and Waste Voluntary Agreement was also launched in September 2020 by the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) in partnership with the national departments of forestry, fisheries and the environment, and trade, industry and competition. It commits food manufacturers and retailers to reducing food waste along the supply chain.
Despite this traction, more can still be done, FoodForward SA believes. “South Africa needs to take urgent action to address the food security crisis, or risk increasing social instability that could lead to a repeat of unrest like the 2021 KZN riots.”
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