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Projects and activities | 30 November 2022

European Consumer Food Waste Forum

The Joint Research Centre, in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), is setting up a multi-disciplinary forum to address consumer food waste. Researchers and practitioners will work together to find solutions and develop tools to help reduce consumer food waste.

Context

The amount of food wasted during its production and consumption is staggering. While around 20% of food produced in the EU is lost or wasted, some 33 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day.

Food waste has a significant environmental and climate impact and it puts an unnecessary burden on limited natural resources, such as land and water use. Globally, if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States. Food waste reduction is thus key for the establishment of sustainable food systems and the deployment of a circular bioeconomy, in which biological resources are used sustainably. Moreover, the recovery of surplus food for redistribution to those in need has an important social dimension and ensures that more food is made available for human consumption.

The Farm to Fork Strategy puts forward a series of actions to enable the EU’s transition to a sustainable food system. The Strategy includes ambitious proposals to establish targets to reduce food waste across the EU by end 2023, and to revise EU rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates) by end 2022.

The highest share of food waste is generated at the consumption stage, including households and food services. The food groups that are most wasted are vegetables, fruits and cereals.

Consumer food waste is essentially a behavioural issue and reducing such waste is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 of halving the amount of food waste per capita by 2030.

The Joint Research Centre, in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), is setting up the European Consumer Food Waste Forum in order to address consumer food waste. Researchers and practitioners will work together to find solutions and develop tools to help reduce consumer food waste.

Objectives

The project’s aim is to gather data and identify a variety of evidence-based, practical solutions to reduce food waste at the consumer level, including household and food services. The forum will issue research- and evidence-based recommendations and develop tools to help reduce consumer food waste, aiming to produce a compendium of best practices to facilitate uptake of effective interventions. These will contribute to the work of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and that of other players to help reduce consumer food waste.

The project will run for 2 years.

Objectives and expected outcomes of the project:

  • Review of evidence on drivers of consumer food waste and levers for behavioural change;
  • Research and data collection on interventions to prevent and reduce consumer food waste, in particular in EU Member States;
  • Evaluation of the identified interventions based on their feasibility, reach and effectiveness;
  • Definition of research protocols and recommendations for effective interventions and further research, to be tailored and carried out at national and regional levels;
  • Development of a compendium of multi-dimensional, multi-level, evidence-based set of tools that can be applied by the EU Member States, regional and local administrations.

The Forum

In July 2021, a public call was launched to find practitioners and researchers in the area of consumer food waste prevention to collaborate in the forum. As a result, 16 practitioners and researchers have been selected, and the forum began its work in October 2021.

The forum’s deliverables will be multi-level in order to address the role and needs of consumers as well as other key players engaged in food waste reduction (such as national governments, local authorities, educational institutions, primary producers, companies, non-governmental organisations and other relevant target groups).

The experts

The members of the forum will identify and develop multi-dimensional tools to support the implementation of effective food waste prevention interventions. They will consider the motivation of consumers as well as their ability to change their food waste-related behaviour. The tools will include proposals to improve action design, monitoring and evaluation of interventions as well as knowledge sharing in the field.

All the experts chosen for the Forum’s work come from different countries. They work in academia, NGOs and public institutions alike. They have been involved in food waste prevention campaigns and behaviour change interventions. Some of them are also involved in the work of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste.

To browse through the biographies of the experts, click here.

Project timeline

  1. October 2021
    Setting up the forum of experts on consumer food waste
  2. December 2021
    Review of drivers and levers of consumer food waste
  3. April 2022
    Defining the scope of the study and framework for the evaluation of consumer food waste interventions
  4. April 2023
    Food waste interventions data collection and evaluation
  5. May 2023
    Best practices and recommendations for consumer food waste prevention
  6. July 2023
    Dissemination

Latest knowledge from this Project

European Consumer Food Waste Forum