Waste of food, money and carbon

Rabobank has joined the global initiative to reduce food waste. What would make a bank, of all things, want to address this problem? All is revealed in the questions answered below. We learn that, when it comes to food waste, the Triple Bottom Line of 'People, Planet and Profit' is as pertinent as ever.

Why Rabobank is committed to reducing food waste

Just how big is the problem of food waste?

It's a massive problem. Data collected by Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research shows that European consumers throw out a total of 30 billion euros worth of food each year, with another 60 billion euros squandered in the production and distribution of food. A large portion of food waste in non-Western countries is generated in farming and after harvesting.

Whether you're a farm, supermarket or household, throwing out food is tantamount to throwing out money. At the same time, the resources used in the production of the food have also been wasted, not to mention the needless production related carbon emissions generated in the process.

Why has Rabobank taken this problem to heart?

First of all, because it is important to our customers. Rabobank has a total of 96 billion euros in loans outstanding to businesses across the entire food supply chain, ranging from supermarkets and food companies to farmers and horticulturists. Every pound of food these customers sell rather than throw out increases their revenues and reduces their carbon footprint.

Apart from that, reducing food waste will also benefit the world’s food supply. Under the banner 'Banking for Food', Rabobank aims to help its customers in the food supply chain to feed the growing global population while using less land and fewer resources and having less negative impact on the environment.

Part of the solution is reducing food waste, since this means a larger share of the scarce land and scarce resources is used to feed people rather than going to waste.

In its commitment to reducing food waste, Rabobank abides by the Triple Bottom Line: 'People, Planet and Profit'. What matters is that there is enough food for the global population (People), that carbon emissions and the depletion of the Earth are reduced (Planet) and that businesses operating in the food supply chain see an increase in their return (Profit).

What specific efforts is Rabobank making?

The analysts in Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research have outlined a number of potential solutions. They have calculated that businesses across Europe can save five billion euros a year through innovations related to harvesting and storage immediately after harvesting. Another 2.5 billion euros can be achieved in savings through advances in the packaging of food products, plus another 2.5 billion through improved monitoring of product freshness.

In Africa and other non-Western parts of the world, Rabobank is investing in improving the logistics and storage of agricultural products. Rabobank Foundation, for example, helps farmers to organise themselves in cooperatives, enabling them to invest in more effective storage methods for their products.

In the Netherlands, Rabobank is launching various other initiatives to raise public awareness of food waste. Local Rabobanks host discussions with customers on the topic of reducing food waste and the bank recently also organised a hackathon, where hackers and data experts examined how to create apps to help people reduce the amount of food they throw away. Rabobank has also partnered with the Dutch environmental organisation Natuur & Milieu and packaging manufacturer Depa, also based in the Netherlands, to promote the use of 'doggy bags' in restaurants. The caterers in Rabobank's corporate cafeterias are also doing their bit to help reduce food waste.

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