As the world faces a global challenge in the form of a food crisis, there are opportunities to help smaller businesses across the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies reduce food waste , according to an APEC brief news item.
In a bulletin, APEC’s Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group chair Aaron Sydor said any strategy for reducing food wastage will have to involve the wholesale participation of the region’s smaller businesses.
This, as the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for over 97 percent of all business in APEC economies and employ over half of the workforce, he said.
“Few have tried to reduce MSME food waste in the retail food and the food service industries. Supermarkets, food storage facilities or warehouses in many APEC economies aren’t required to donate excesses,” Sydor said.
“Most entrepreneurs aren’t even aware of the problem, or underestimate its true cost. Those who do understand have limited options or capital, and are unable to find cost-effective solutions to create value out of food waste, and face problems with logistics and transportation. On top of this, there are few to no regulatory frameworks to guide them,” he added.
From a technology perspective, Sydor said a majority of APEC economies utilize modern technologies, including mobile applications, to reduce or manage MSME food waste/surplus food but these modern technologies are used only by large companies in big cities.
To help MSMEs reduce food waste, he said training, policies and guidelines can aid them in improving profits by reducing costs and increasing the value added of food.
“They can reduce their carbon footprint, which enhances consumer demand, and divert waste to new products or bioenergy,” he added.
Sydor also cited an earlier study that yielded several key recommendations for reducing MSME food waste in APEC economies.
The study proposed to MSMEs the need to promote public-private partnerships, including helping them overcome barriers by identifying sustainable innovations, promoting finance innovation by supporting to research and development that is targeted at preventing and reducing food waste; and piloting test food waste management within the community and establish a local food waste baseline.
It also underscored the importance of fostering skills to reduce, reuse or recycle food waste generated by them; and requiring food waste management training prior to the issuance of sanitary permits for businesses and mainstream sustainable production and consumption (SCP) by establishing an SCP Council.